IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Terror management in times of war: Mortality salience effects on self-esteem and governmental and army support

Listed author(s):
  • Armand Chatard

    (Department of Social Psychology, University of Geneva,

  • Leila Selimbegović

    (Department of Social Psychology, University of Poitiers)

  • Paul N'Dri Konan

    (Department of Social Psychology, University of Geneva)

  • Jamie Arndt

    (Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia)

  • Tom Pyszczynski

    (Department of Social Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado)

  • Fabio Lorenzi-Cioldi

    (Department of Social Psychology, University of Geneva)

  • Martial Van der Linden

    (Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Geneva)

Registered author(s):

    Previous research has identified economic and political factors that can contribute to the outbreak and the duration of armed conflicts. However, the psychological factors that may play a role in conflict escalation and duration have received less attention. Adopting a psychological perspective, the present study aims to investigate the role of death awareness in the context of an armed conflict. To this aim, basic assumptions derived from Terror Management Theory (TMT) were examined in an African civil war context. According to TMT, people manage awareness of inevitable death by increased striving for self-esteem and increased adherence to their cultural values. Students from the University of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), located in the pro-governmental part of the country, were randomly assigned to a mortality salience or a control condition and completed measures of self-esteem and government/army support. As expected, reminding participants of their possible death during the ongoing conflict exacerbated self-esteem, as well as support for the actions of the government and its army, compared to a control condition. Given that mortality is chronically salient in the context of a civil war, these effects can lead to conflict intensification by increasing not only each side’s support for their leaders, but also the value that members of confronted sides attribute to themselves. The findings are discussed in terms of the role of mortality salience in conflict escalation and the importance of carefully dealing with the past in post-conflict societies.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Peace Research Institute Oslo in its journal Journal of Peace Research.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 225-234

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:225-234
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:225-234. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.