Ebola as an Existential Threat? Experimentally-Primed Ebola Reminders Intensify National-Security Concerns Among Extrinsically Religious Individuals

Volume
Volume 44
Issue
Summer 2016
Title
Ebola as an Existential Threat? Experimentally-Primed Ebola Reminders Intensify National-Security Concerns Among Extrinsically Religious Individuals
Abstract

One of religion’s psychological functions is to buffer against existential anxieties. This function may be especially pronounced among extrinsically religious individuals, who tend to harness religion for its personal and social benefits (e.g., emotional security, strengthened ingroup ties). Hence, in 2 experimental priming studies conducted within weeks of the first confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S., we examined whether extrinsically religious persons were especially likely to experience Ebola reminders as an existential threat that intensified national-security concerns (e.g., supporting strict travel bans, border security, and immigration laws). In Experiment 1 (N = 368), extrinsic religiousness was more strongly associated with national-security concerns in the Ebola prime, relative to a control group. In Experiment 2 (N = 532), we added a mortality salience condition. Replicating Experiment 1, extrinsic religiousness was more strongly associated with national-security concerns in both the Ebola prime and mortality salience conditions, relative to a control group. Taken together, large-scale existential threats may be especially likely to intensify pro-ingroup/anti-outgroup biases among extrinsically religious individuals. Implications for individual and community resilience are discussed.

Authors
Dr. D.R. Van Tongeren, Dr. J.N. Hook, Dr. D.E. Davis, Dr. J.D. Aten and Dr. E.B. Davis
Pages
133 - 141
Price
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