Frischlich, Lena (2015). Join me in Death: Managing Mortality Salience via Mediated Social Encounters. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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The synopsis of this cumulative dissertation reports the theoretical background, methodology and main results of five studies addressing the role of intergroup versus interpersonal similarities for mediated social encounters under conditions of mortality salience (MS). Drawing upon terror management theory (TMT, Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) individuals were expected to prefer similar over dissimilar others under conditions of MS. In theory, similarity can take place on the intergroup level (i.e. by belonging to the same in-group) as well as on the interpersonal level (e.g., by holding the same attitudes). So far, the relative relevance of intergroup versus interpersonal similarity has not been studied systematically. Particularly in mediated social encounters, intergroup and interpersonal similarity can be independent from each other and might have different effects. The results of five studies in different contexts confirmed intergroup and interpersonal similarities to have different effects in mediated encounters under conditions of MS. In an online dating context, a similarity-attraction effect emerged only among in-group but not out-group members (Study 1), and intergroup but not interpersonal dissimilarity threatened the individuals’ defense against MS (Study 2). In a gaming context, individuals preferred an interpersonally similar in-group (versus out-group) avatar (Study 4) but showed no in-group bias when the avatar was interpersonally dissimilar (Study 3). Further, the valence of the in-group played a role under conditions of interpersonal dissimilarity (Study 3), but not under conditions of interpersonal similarity (Study 4). Finally, Study 5 found an increased interest in media content by in-group but not out-group members under conditions of MS even when the content (extremist propaganda) was negatively valenced and did not match the recipients’ political attitude. The results are discussed regarding their implications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Frischlich, Lenalena.frischlich@uni-koeln.deUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-66700
Subjects: Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Terror management theory; mortality salience; mediated social encounters; intergroup relationship; interpersonal relationship; similarity-attraction effect; online dating; avatar choice; parochial altruism; extremist propaganda;English
Faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Human Sciences > Department Psychologie
Language: English
Date: 10 October 2015
Date of oral exam: 27 January 2016
NameAcademic Title
Bente, GaryProf.
Kneer, JuliaAss. Prof.
Refereed: Yes


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