A Terrifying Journey to the Centre of Politics: Political Centrism as an Effect of Mortality Salience and a Need for Closure

Rivera, C. A. A Terrifying Journey to the Centre of Politics: political centrism as an effect of mortality salience and a need for closure [under review].


Three studies assessed the relationship between need for closure (NFC) and evaluations of political ideology conversions as a function of mortality salience (MS). Following anexperimental (vs. control) manipulation, 156 participants evaluated politicians who switchedpolitical ideologies. Results indicate that MS induced people high in NFC to express greater support for politicians seeking consensus in the political centre, an effect consistent with research linking NFC to desires for group centrism and collective closure. A second study (N = 170) clarified this issue further with participants evaluating political parties moving from theirtraditional left/right positions to the political centre. Participants high in NFC exposed to MS expressed significantly higher levels of support for parties moving from the right to the centre. A third study (N = 276) explored how the activation of specific needs for consensus via MS increased support for a centrist political party described as uniform in thought and enjoying an internal (vs. split) mandate. Results further indicate that mortality reminders amplify demands for consensus and clarity more than a demand for ideological clarity.

Keywords: Need for Cognitive Closure; Terror Management Theory; Political Behaviour; Party Identification; Emotion; Voting


Research Area(s)

Last updated:

September 4, 2019