Evidence for a role of death thought in American attitudes toward symbols of Islam

Florette Cohen, Melissa Soenke, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Four studies were conducted to examine how concerns about mortality contribute to Americans' negative attitudes and behavior toward symbols of Islam. Study 1 found that a subtle reminder of death decreased support for the Ground Zero mosque, and increased the distance from Ground Zero that people felt was appropriate for a mosque to be built. Study 2 found that asking people to think about a mosque being built in their neighborhood increased the accessibility of implicit death thoughts. Study 3 replicated the results of Study 2 and showed that thinking of a church or synagogue did not produce the same effect as thinking of a mosque. Study 4 found that heightened death thought accessibility in response to a mortality salience induction was eliminated when the participants read a newspaper account of the desecration of the Quran.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-194
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • 9/11
  • Islam
  • Mortality salience
  • Mosque
  • Prejudice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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