The effects of mortality salience on personally-relevant persuasive appeals

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Sheldon Soloman
Jeff Greenberg
Tom Pyszczynski
Janine Pryzbylinski
Cite this article:  Soloman, S., Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., & Pryzbylinski, J. (1995). The effects of mortality salience on personally-relevant persuasive appeals. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 23(2), 177-190.


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The effects of mortality salience on personally-relevant persuasive appeals were investigated by exposing subjects to strong or weak arguments about a personally-relevant issue by an expert or nonexpert source following a mortality salience or control induction, and then measuring subjects' attitudes about that issue. A significant mortality salience X argument source X strength of arguments interaction was found. In control conditions, subjects were more persuaded by strong than weak arguments when the source of the persuasive appeal was a nonexpert, but not when the source was an expert. Conversely, when mortality was made salient, subjects were more persuaded by strong than weak arguments when the source of the appeal was an expert, but not when the source was a nonexpert. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, and directions for future research are considered.
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