Terror management theory upside down: Prosocial behavior following immortality priming
AuthorWilliams, Michael John
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AbstractBased upon Terror Management Theory, the present study tested whether subliminally priming notions of immortality would tend to cause individuals to increase their generosity and reduce their in-group bias, as measured by monetary donations to racial in-group vs. out-group members, and to what degree that effect was positively associated with individuals' spiritual beliefs and level of collectivism. As part of the study's paradigm, participants had the chance to win $200 in a lottery-style drawing, and were given the chance to indicate what amount, if they were to win that drawing, they would like to donate (the dependent variable) to a (fictional) scholarship recipient. Prior to allocating that donation, participants were randomly assigned to be subliminally primed with words related to symbolic immortality (vs. controls). Additionally, participants were randomly assigned to condition whereby the donation recipient was of the same vs. different race as the participant. Measures of collectivism and religion also were collected during a survey component of the study. Immortality priming did not significantly reduce in-group bias. However, it strongly interacted with spiritual beliefs such that spiritual believers gave more when primed with immortality. Collectivism was positively associated with amount donated, which tended to be more pronounced both when individuals gave to racial in-group members.