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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




This study was designed to explore the moderating effects of a generalized threat on the relationship between right wing authoritarianism (RWA), social dominance orientation (SDO), need for cognitive structure (NFCS), and the information processing strategies of a community sample. I hypothesized that participants would display no main effect for threat conditions (mortality salience vs. control) on RWA, SDO and NFCS. I also hypothesized participants in the mortality salience threat condition would exhibit heightened "seizing" and "freezing" processes associated with the need for cognitive closure (NFCS) compared to participants in the control condition. Results revealed a statistically significant increase in negative affective measures and decreases in hypothesis testing measures such as RWA, SDO, and NFCS for women in the generalized mortality salience threat condition versus those in the control. No statistically significant affective or hypothesis testing change was discovered for the men in this sample. Unexpectedly, the mortality salience manipulation did not interact with RWA, SDO, or NFCS to predict reaction time seizing or freezing. These results raise questions about possible gender differences in the presence of a mortality salience threat and the significance of further research involving RWA and SDO populations.


51 p. Honors project--Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 30-32)