Implicit cognition and terror management theory: The utility of indirect measurement in understanding death-related defense mechanisms
The current paper was an attempt to study the defense mechanisms of terror management theory (TMT) via implicit cognition/indirect measures. In Study 1, an American and Foreign Single-Category Implicit Association Test (SC-IAT) and an American-Foreign Implicit Association Test (IAT) were used to assess implicit attitudes toward patriotism in an attempt to predict the worldview defense of patriotism in the TMT paradigm. It was hypothesized that these indirect measures would be predictive of the occurrence and strength of the worldview defense among participants primed with thoughts of mortality and not control participants. The cultural worldview defense commonly found in TMT did not arise, which precluded testing the efficacy of indirect measures as predictors. Explanations as to why the worldview defense did not arise and modifications to the design of the study are proffered. In Study 2, the automaticity of the self-esteem bolstering construct postulated by TMT was examined via an indirect measure of self-esteem (i.e., the self-esteem SC-IAT) and a measure of state self-esteem (i.e., the modified Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale). It was hypothesized that these measures of self-esteem would capture automatic self-esteem bolstering among participants primed with thoughts of mortality and not control participants. Both measures of self-esteem failed to capture the automaticity of the appearance of self-esteem bolstering following a mortality salience manipulation. Explanations for the lack of detection of self-esteem bolstering and suggestions for future research into the self-esteem bolstering construct within the TMT paradigm are discussed. Finally, factors central to the successful incorporation of indirect measures into the TMT paradigm are addressed.
0623: Experimental psychology
0633: Cognitive psychology