Making and Unmaking Prejudice: Religious Affiliation Mitigates the Impact of Mortality Salience on Out-Group Attitudes
Newheiser AK., Hewstone M., Voci A., Schmid K.
© 2016 Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Research inspired by terror management theory has established that being reminded of the inevitability of death (i.e., "mortality salience") leads people to express more negative attitudes toward out-groups. We examined the hypothesis that being affiliated with a religion may buffer individuals against this negative impact of mortality salience. Two studies, conducted in two cultures that differ in their emphasis on religiosity (the United Kingdom and Italy), supported this hypothesis. Specifically, we found that mortality salience resulted in more negative out-group attitudes only among participants not affiliated with any religion. Further, this buffering effect of religious affiliation was not moderated by participants' specific religious orientations or by their levels of social dominance orientation. In addition, the buffering effect did not hold when prejudice against the target out-group was not proscribed by religious authorities. Implications for research on religion, prejudice, and terror management are discussed.