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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  

Kenneth Vail III

University of Missouri at Columbia

Jamie Arndt

University of Missouri at Columbia

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Vail, Kenneth and Arndt, Jamie and Motyl, Matt and Pyszczynski, Tom, The Aftermath of Destruction: Images of Destroyed Buildings Increase Support for War, Dogmatism, and Death Thought Accessibility (2012). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2067583

Kenneth Vail (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Columbia ( email )

MO
United States

Jamie Arndt

University of Missouri at Columbia ( email )

MO
United States

Matt Motyl

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

Tom Pyszczynski

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs ( email )

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

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