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Study finds link between death-related anxiety and support for killing animals

Eric. W. Dolan: ‘A study recently published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that the killing of animals helps people dampen the awareness of their own mortality. The research was based on terror management theory, which posits that humans unconsciously uphold certain cultural beliefs to manage the anxiety aroused by the awareness of death. One way of managing this anxiety is to deny that humans are merely mortal animals. The findings from the new study suggest that the killing of animals can make people feel superior to nature and therefore more than just regular animals… In a pilot study with 72 participants, the researchers found that students who were more supportive of killing animals reported lower fear of death along with lower death-related anxiety. The researchers then conducted five separate follow-up experiments, with more than 700 participants in total. They found that reminders of mortality caused participants to support the killing of nonhuman animals, but not fellow humans. This relationship held even after controlling for the potential effects of gender, preexisting attitudes toward killing animals or animal rights, perceived human–animal similarity, religiosity, and political orientation’. SOURCE…

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