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Fatal Attraction: The Effects of Mortality Salience on Evaluations of Charismatic, Task-Oriented, and Relationship-Oriented Leaders


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A study was conducted to assess the effects of mortality salience on evaluations of political candidates as a function of leadership style. On the basis of terror management theory and previous research, we hypothesized that people would show increased preference for a charismatic political candidate and decreased preference for a relationship-oriented political candidate in response to subtle reminders of death. Following a mortality-salience or control induction, 190 participants read campaign statements by charismatic, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented gubernatorial candidates; evaluated their preferences for each candidate; and voted for one of them. Results were in accord with predictions. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are considered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Rutgers University, 2: Skidmore College, 3: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and 4: University of Arizona

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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