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

See all articles by Matt Motyl

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Joshua Hart

Union College

Douglas Cooper

Johnson C. Smith University

Nathan Heflick

University of South Florida

Jamie Goldenberg

University of South Florida

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Date Written: May 21, 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Motyl, Matt and Hart, Joshua and Cooper, Douglas and Heflick, Nathan and Goldenberg, Jamie and Pyszczynski, Tom, Creatureliness Priming Reduces Aggression and Support for War (May 21, 2012). British Journal of Social Psychology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2063811

Matt Motyl (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

Joshua Hart

Union College ( email )

Schenectady, NY 12308-3151
United States

Douglas Cooper

Johnson C. Smith University ( email )

100 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, NC 28216
United States

Nathan Heflick

University of South Florida ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

Jamie Goldenberg

University of South Florida ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs ( email )

1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918-7150
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
32
Abstract Views
516
PlumX Metrics