Subliminal exposure to death-related stimuli increases defense of the cultural worldview

Jamie Arndt, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, Sheldon Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

238 Scopus citations


Three experiments reported here provide empirical support for the hypothesis derived from terror management theory that unconscious concerns about death motivate allegiance to cultural beliefs. Study 1 contrasted exposure to a subliminal death-related stimulus, a standard mortality-salience treatment, and a neutral subliminal stimulus, and found that both the subliminal and the standard reminder of mortality led to more favorable evaluations of people who praised subjects' cultural worldview and more unfavorable evaluations of those who challenged it. Study 2 replicated this finding by comparing the effects of exposure to subliminal death stimuli and subliminal pain stimuli. Study 3 contrasted subliminal death stimuli, supraliminal death stimuli, and subliminal pain stimuli and found that only subliminal death stimuli produced these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Subliminal exposure to death-related stimuli increases defense of the cultural worldview'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this