Effects of mortality salience on capital punishment sentencing decisions

Megan Beringer Jones, Richard L. Wiener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Despite the empirical success of Terror Management Theory (TMT) and the possibility that capital jurors may be unable to escape mortality salience effects, no studies have applied TMT to capital punishment trials. This research asked mock jurors to focus on their own death, the victim's death, or the defendant's death while reviewing a capital trial. Mock jurors who focused on the victim's or defendant's death (but not their own death) relied more on their attitudes toward the death penalty to make sentencing decisions than did other participants. These results raise questions about the usefulness of TMT in understanding capital jury decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-181
Number of pages15
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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