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5/10/2015 On the Edge of an Existential Abyss A Terror Management Perspective on Ethnopolitical Violence Gilad Hirschberger New School of Psychology Interdisciplinary.

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Presentation on theme: "5/10/2015 On the Edge of an Existential Abyss A Terror Management Perspective on Ethnopolitical Violence Gilad Hirschberger New School of Psychology Interdisciplinary."— Presentation transcript:

1 5/10/2015 On the Edge of an Existential Abyss A Terror Management Perspective on Ethnopolitical Violence Gilad Hirschberger New School of Psychology Interdisciplinary Center

2 5/10/2015 “ It is in the sphere of terrorism and counter-terrorism that fear’s most harmful manifestations flourish ” Irene Kahn, Amnesty International

3 5/10/2015 Self-Preservation Instinct Cognitive Complexity Potential for Debilitating Terror CWVSelf-Esteem

4 5/10/2015 Terror Management Dynamics Threshold Preconscious Death Anxiety Symbolic Defenses

5 5/10/2015 Mortality Salience and Worldview Defenses Threshold Preconscious Death Anxiety Symbolic Defenses MS Prime

6 5/10/2015 Mortality Salience Induces Support of Violence  Conservative Americans support using extreme violence (Pyszczynski et al., 2006).  Iranian and British participants express willingness to sacrifice their life for a cause (Pyszczynski et al., 2006; Routledge & Arndt, 2008).  Right-wing Israeli participants condone violent resistance to the disengagement from Gaza (Hirschberger & Ein- Dor, 2006).

7 5/10/2015 Does MS Always Promote Violent Solutions to Conflict?  Three preconditions:  Perceived consensus  Justice  Inevitability of violence

8 5/10/2015 Consensus

9 Consensus: An Outcome and Precondition  MS led Americans to support President Bush and the War Against Iraq (Landau et al., 2004)  MS led Iranians to support suicidal terrorism, but only when they believed there was consensus for such action (Abdollahi et al., in press; Pyszczynski et al., 2006)

10 5/10/2015 The Justice Motivation

11 5/10/2015 Rationality, Revenge and Justice  The cognitive-rational debate “War is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means” Clausewitz, 1832 War is an irrational and useless effort Voltaire, 1959

12 5/10/2015 Study 1: Manipulating Justice  A description of a deadly Qassam attack on Sderot › Utility: “A military invasion now will significantly reduce the likelihood of future attacks” › Justice: “A military invasion now will not have an effect on future attacks, but will restore justice.” › Futility of Violence: “A military invasion now will only increase attacks against us.”

13 5/10/2015 Support of Military Action

14 5/10/2015 Study 2: Measuring Justice, Utility, & Peace  Construction of JUPI scales  MS/Pain  Description of attack on Sderot › Mild outcome › Severe outcome

15 5/10/2015 The Impact of MS on Justice Motivations

16 5/10/2015 Study 3: Pitting Justice against Utility  Rational/emotional decision making prime  MS/Pain  Terrorist attack scenario  Expert opinion – mild response  Decision: mild response or full scale attack?  DV: Level of confidence

17 5/10/2015 Emotional Processing Rational Processing

18 5/10/2015 Conclusions  Both justice and utility motivations are activated when death is salient  Justice motivations are preferred over utility motivations when death is salient, especially when in an emotional processing state  When violence is counter-productive or when one is in a rational processing state MS reduces violent motivations

19 5/10/2015 Inevitability of Violence

20 5/10/2015 Study 1: Support for a Pre- Emptive Nuclear Strike Hirschberger, Pyszczynski, & Ein-Dor, 2009, PSPB

21 5/10/2015 Escalation Scenario “The Iranian leadership has been escalating their rhetoric on the need to destroy Israel, and the world is showing increasing concern about the development of the Iranian nuclear program. According to experts on the matter, Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons within one to three years. Moreover, the Iranian government adamantly refuses to consider any of the proposals of the international community and will not allow any inspections of its nuclear facilities.”

22 5/10/2015 De-escalation Scenario “The Iranian leadership has changed its tone and has recently declared that Israel will be able to exist in the region if it recognizes the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and respects the culture and values of the Muslim majority in the region. Moreover, Iran has started to cooperate with the UN agency for nuclear energy and it is considering several proposals that may satisfy international concerns on weapons development, including the presence of UN inspectors.”

23 5/10/2015 Support of Preemptive Strike

24 5/10/2015 Study 2: Personal Vulnerability  Replication of Study 1  Half of the participants were instructed to consider the personal ramifications of a pre-emptive strike on Iran

25 5/10/2015 Support of Preemptive Strike

26 5/10/2015 Study 3: Previous War Exposure  Lebanon War 2006 › Participants who lived in the North › Participants not directly exposed to violence  Escalation and De-escalation scenarios

27 5/10/2015 Support of Violence as a Function of Exposure to War NorthSouth

28 5/10/2015 Conclusions  MS leads to preference for violent solutions  However, actual concrete threats take precedence over symbolic threats

29 5/10/2015 Common Humanity

30 5/10/2015 Common Humanity and the Holocaust  Four prime conditions: › Death › Pain › Holocaust – A crime against the Jewish people › Holocaust – A crime against Humanity  DV: Aggression against Palestinians

31 5/10/2015 Support of Violence

32 5/10/2015 Superordinate Threat and Common Humanity  Focusing on a greater threat  Redefining group boundaries  Placing local conflict in perspective

33 5/10/2015 Study 1: Support for Diplomacy over Violence  109 American participants › Common catastrophe – global warming › Local catastrophe – San Francisco earthquake  MS/Pain procedure  DV: Support for Diplomacy

34 5/10/2015 Study 1: Results

35 5/10/2015 Study 2: Support for War  56 American participants › Common catastrophe – global warming › Local catastrophe – Flooding in China  MS/Uncertainty procedure  DV: Support for war on Iran

36 5/10/2015 Study 2: Results

37 5/10/2015 Study 3: Support for Peace and Coexistence  100 Muslim Palestinian citizens of Israel studied during the war on Gaza › Common catastrophe – global warming › Local catastrophe – Earthquake in Israel  MS/Pain procedure  DV: Support for peace and coexistence “As difficult as it is, we need to find a way to live in peace with the Jews”  Common humanity orientation “All people are linked to each other in a shared human bond”

38 5/10/2015 Study 3: Support for Peace and Coexistence

39 5/10/2015 General Conclusions  MS leads to support of violent solutions to conflict when: › Perceived consensus is high › Violence can be justified › War seems imminent and inevitable  MS induces non-violent motivations when: › Violence can be averted › Personal vulnerability is high › People are induced to think rationally › Perceptions of intergroup boundaries are manipulated

40 5/10/2015 Thank You!  Tsachi Ein-Dor  Rania el Masri  Dan Shaham  Merav Regev  Keren Arias Bental  Sofia Yakir  Matt Motyl  Zach Rothschild  Kenneth Vail Tom Pyszczynski


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