Prejudice toward outgroups as a Strategy to Deal with Mortality Threat: Simple Reaction with a Complex Foundation

Marta Maj, Małgorzata Kossowska



Prejudice and stereotypes are two negative phenomena influencing our everyday lives. Current theory proposes that they are the effects of death cues acting mainly subconsciously, causing a potential for anxiety and provoking to defend our beliefs and maintain self-esteem. Although numerous studies have confirmed the relation between mortality salience and negative attitudes toward outgroups, moderators of this relation drew less attention so far. The following paper proposes three factors to consider: need for closure, religiosity and death attitude of an individual. Previous research as well as predictions based on the Terror Management Theory let us presume that each of them acting differently may play a significant role in shaping stereotyped and prejudiced cognition. An in-depth study shall add to further exploration of the mechanisms of stereotyping and prejudice toward outgroups.


prejudice; stereotypes; Terror Management Theory (TMT); mortality salience; need for closure (NFC); religiosity; death attitude

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