Creatureliness Priming Reduces Aggression and Support for War
British Journal of Social Psychology, Forthcoming
38 Pages Posted: 22 May 2012 Last revised: 9 May 2018
Date Written: May 21, 2012
Terror management theory (TMT) posits that humans distance themselves from, or elevate themselves above, other animals as a way of denying their mortality. The present studies assessed whether the salience of aggressive tendencies that humans share with other animals make thoughts of death salient and whether depicting human aggression as animalistic can mitigate aggressive behavior and support for aggression. In Study 1, participants primed with human-animal similarities (i.e., human creatureliness) exhibited elevated death-thought accessibility after hitting a punching bag. In Studies 2a and 2b, creatureliness priming caused participants to hit a punching bag with less frequency, perceived force and comfort. In Study 3, participants primed to view violence as animalistic exhibited increased death-thought accessibility and reported less support for war against Iran. These studies suggest that portraying violence as creaturely may reduce the intensity of aggressive actions and support for violent solutions to international conflicts.
Keywords: creatureliness, existential, aggression, war, conflict, violence, terror management, peace, political psychology, intergroup relations
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