Friday, April 04, 2008

Genocide and Mortality Saliance

There is an interesting article at We're Only Human, that argues that being exposed to people who have a different philosophy or world-view form our own can lead to feelings of Mortality Salience or awareness of our own Mortality. We all know that humans are aware of their own mortality and yet, can go about their daily business, nonchalantly , as they find solace in their cultural world-view , of being part of a religion or group with shared philosophy/ world-view. This is the basis for the Terror Management theory.

Now the article further argues, that if we witness the annihilation of people whose philisophy / world-view is different from ours , and who by their mere presence have induced a Mortality salience in us; then we can , by witnessing their annihilation, overcome the terror of death and manage its impact. thus, our propensity for genocide. all this is not based on mere speculation, but there is experimental evidence, that thinking about people with a different philosophy does lead to thoughts of personal death and fear of ones mortality; that witnessing or being told about the death of members holding that alternate philosophical view does lead to proper management of that terror and thus theoretically the rationale of hidden reasons behind genocide.

All that is fine; but the research was conducted using a religious paradigm. what if the other group exposed to was that of atheists; or a capitalist group was pitted against communist ideologies; would the results still hold. Historically, there has been much bloodshed between religious factions, and memories of that may color the results as people realistically feel threatened due to the checkered history of mankind. If we can be user that the terror is due to mortality salience induced by exposure to different philosophy ; and not just due to memories flooding back; than the results could have a greater implication.



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2 comments:

The Mess said...

Mortality Saliance?

I have to admit that i don´t follow your thinking but It was interesting..

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