On shielding from death as an important yet malleable motive of worldview defense: Christian versus muslim beliefs modulating the self-threat of mortality salience

Kees Van Den Bos*, Josha Buurman, Veerle De Theije, Bertjan Doosje, Annemarie Loseman, Danique Van Laarhoven, Tanja Van Veldhuizen, Jenny Veldman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article argues that shielding from death is an important yet malleable motive. In particular, on the basis of conceptual insights into the psychology of Christianity and Islam we propose that shielding from death fulfills a more important psychological function among Christians than among Muslims. In accordance with this line of reasoning four studies all indicate that reminders of death trigger especially strong reactions of worldview defense among Christians, and less so (sometimes even nonsignificant reactions) among Muslims. The findings of the fourth study suggest that this is the case because among Christians reminders of death pose a stronger threat to their sense of self than among Muslims. In this way, the current article reveals that religion modulates the self-threatening influence of mortality salience on worldview defense reactions. This insight may stimulate a new generation of worldview defense studies that focus on religious and cultural moderators of worldview defense and that do not assume one common mechanism of threat-compensation that should be applicable to each and every person in every situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-802
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

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