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      Dying the right-way? Interest in and perceived persuasiveness of parochial extremist propaganda increases after mortality salience

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          Research on parochial altruism demonstrated that hostility toward out-groups ( parochialism) represents the dark side of the willingness to benefit one’s in-group even at own costs ( altruism). Parochial aggression thereby emerged mainly under conditions of threat. Extremist propaganda videos, for instance by right-wing extremists, try to capitalize on parochial altruistic mechanism by telling recipients sharing their national identity that this nation is under threat wherefore they for have to join the extremist’s cause to prevent the extinction of their nation. Most of the time, propaganda videos are rated as uninteresting and non-persuasive by the target audience. Yet, evolutionary media psychology posits that the interest in and effectiveness of media increases when evolutionarily relevant problems are addressed. Consequently, interest in parochial altruistic right-wing extremist messages should increase under conditions of threat. The current study tested this assumption by randomly assigning German non-Muslims ( N = 109) to either an existential threat (here: mortality salience) or a control condition and asking them to evaluate extremist propaganda that addressed them as either in-group members (right-wing extremists) or as out-group members (Islamic extremists). In support of the hypotheses, subjects under conditions of threat reported a higher interest in the right-wing extremist propaganda and perceived it as more persuasive. We discuss the results concerning the implications for evolutionary media psychology and the transmission of parochial altruism in propaganda videos.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Intergroup bias.

          This chapter reviews the extensive literature on bias in favor of in-groups at the expense of out-groups. We focus on five issues and identify areas for future research: (a) measurement and conceptual issues (especially in-group favoritism vs. out-group derogation, and explicit vs. implicit measures of bias); (b) modern theories of bias highlighting motivational explanations (social identity, optimal distinctiveness, uncertainty reduction, social dominance, terror management); (c) key moderators of bias, especially those that exacerbate bias (identification, group size, status and power, threat, positive-negative asymmetry, personality and individual differences); (d) reduction of bias (individual vs. intergroup approaches, especially models of social categorization); and (e) the link between intergroup bias and more corrosive forms of social hostility.
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              Evidence for terror management theory: I. The effects of mortality salience on reactions to those who violate or uphold cultural values.

              On the basis of terror management theory, it was hypothesized that when mortality is made salient, Ss would respond especially positively toward those who uphold cultural values and especially negatively toward those who violate cultural values. In Experiment 1, judges recommended especially harsh bonds for a prostitute when mortality was made salient. Experiment 2 replicated this finding with student Ss and demonstrated that it occurs only among Ss with relatively negative attitudes toward prostitution. Experiment 3 demonstrated that mortality salience also leads to larger reward recommendations for a hero who upheld cultural values. Experiments 4 and 5 showed that the mortality salience effect does not result from heightened self-awareness or physiological arousal. Experiment 6 replicated the punishment effect with a different mortality salience manipulation. Implications for the role of fear of death in social behavior are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                14 August 2015
                : 6
                1Department of Psychology, University of Cologne Cologne, Germany
                2University of Mannheim Mannheim, Germany
                3Academia for Applied Psychology and Psychotherapy, Cologne Germany
                4Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Robert Böhm, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

                Reviewed by: Simon Schindler, University of Kassel, Germany; Benjamin P. Lange, University of Wuerzburg, Germany

                *Correspondence: Lena Frischlich, Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Straße 2, 50931 Cologne, Germany, lena.frischlich@

                This article was submitted to Evolutionary Psychology and Neuroscience, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2015 Frischlich, Rieger, Hein and Bente.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 98, Pages: 11, Words: 0
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