Changing prosocial values following an existential threat as a function of political orientation: Understanding the effects of armed conflicts from a terror management perspective

Yael Naveh-Kedem, Noga Sverdlik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

In two related studies, we explored the joint role of being exposed to existential threat and political orientation in explaining changes in prosocial values. Drawing on Schwartz's value theory and terror management theory, we suggested existential threat causes values change. Specifically, we hypothesized that following an actual or hypothetical threat, the importance of benevolence values, which focus on the welfare of close people, would increase. We further hypothesized that universalism values, which focus on the welfare of humanity, would become more or less important depending on political orientation. We tested our premises in a field study conducted in the context of a large military operation in Israel (Study 1: N = 105, 68.2% female) and in an experiment (Study 2: N = 54, 85.5% female) where we manipulated mortality salience. Following an armed conflict (Study 1) or a mortality salience manipulation (Study 2), those with left and right-wing inclinations showed different patterns of change in universalism. Benevolence increased in importance regardless of political orientation, but only in the experimental study (Study 2). We discuss the idea that defense mechanisms triggered by existential threats can explain different patterns of change in prosocial values following an armed conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109494
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume150
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Armed conflict
  • Existential threat
  • Mortality salience
  • Personal values
  • Political orientation
  • Terror management theory
  • Value-change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)

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