The Aftermath of Destruction: Images of Destroyed Buildings Increase Support for War, Dogmatism, and Death Thought Accessibility
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming
58 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012
Date Written: 2012
Building on terror management theory, we hypothesized that viewing destroyed buildings would increase death thought accessibility and thereby elicit dogmatic belief and hostile worldview defenses. In Study 1, images of destroyed buildings and deadly terrorist attacks elicited greater death-thought accessibility than images of construction sites or intact buildings. Images of destruction also enhanced dogmatic belief (Study 2) and support for military action against Iran (Study 3). Study 4 found that heightened death thought accessibility, but not the accessibility of thoughts of war or national identity, statistically mediated the relationship between visible destruction and worldview defense. Further, although destruction images increased dogmatism, political orientation was not affected by the destruction manipulation nor was political orientation related to death-thought accessibility. Overall, these findings suggest that visibly destroyed infrastructure can motivate increased certainty of beliefs and support for military aggression (e.g., war and/or terrorism) against groups perceived to be threatening to one’s worldview.
Keywords: terror management, broken windows, death, dogmatism, ideological certainty, conservative shift, worldview defense, war, terrorism, destruction, conflict
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