“We are People”: In-Group Humanization as an Existential Defense
death-thought accessibility, ingroup humanization, mortality salience, self-esteem, terror management theory
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Prior research has shown the importance of humanness in shaping one's social identity, but no research has examined why this is the case. The present article reveals that humanizing the ingroup serves a terror management function. In 3 studies, Italian (Studies 1 and 2) and American (Study 3) participants humanized their own group more when their mortality was salient. In Study 3, humanizing the ingroup also functioned to reduce the accessibility of death thoughts. Together, these studies provide clear support for terror management theory as an explanatory framework for ingroup humanization.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, v. 98, issue 5, p. 750-760
Scholar Commons Citation
Vaes, Jeroen; Heflick, Nathan A.; and Goldenberg, Jamie L., "“We are People”: In-Group Humanization as an Existential Defense" (2010). Psychology Faculty Publications. 1484.