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The Effect of Mortality Salience on Implicit Bias

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Previous research in terror management theory has shown that when individuals are reminded of their mortality, negative evaluations of out-group members increase. This previous research has used a variety of methods to investigate the change in attitudes toward out-group members. These methods generally permit participants time to consciously reflect during responding. In the present study, the authors hypothesized that reminding individuals of their mortality would increase implicit bias toward out-group members when measured with the Implicit Association Test (IAT). In the experiment, White participants were randomly assigned to complete a written essay about imagining their own death (i.e., mortality salience condition) or an essay regarding an upcoming exam (i.e., control condition), and then participants completed an evaluative IAT. The results revealed that participants who had been reminded of their mortality took longer to associate names of Black individuals with positive words when compared to a control group. The implications of these findings are considered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology,Oklahoma State University, Stillwater,Oklahoma, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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