Mark J. Landau's research while affiliated with Cleveland State University and other places

Publications (99)

Article
From early 20th century headlines to presidential tweets, immigration is described frequently in terms of waves, floods, and tides. Although usage of this inundation metaphor has been widely documented, its potential influence on immigration attitudes has not been assessed empirically. Building from conceptual metaphor theory’s claim that abstract...
Article
In their efforts to understand and communicate about abstract concepts related to health (e.g., cancer, recovery), people often represent them metaphorically in terms of superficially unrelated bodily states and experiences that are more concrete and familiar (e.g., physical combat, walking along paths). This entry draws on qualitative and experime...
Article
The term fake news is increasingly used to discredit information from reputable news organizations. We tested the possibility that fake-news claims are appealing because they satisfy the need to see the world as structured. Believing that news organizations are involved in an orchestrated disinformation campaign implies a more orderly world than be...
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Human existence is characterized by some rather unique psychological challenges. Because people can reflect on their lives and place in the world, they are regularly confronted with a variety of existential concerns: death and mortality; the burdens of freedom; uncertainty regarding one's identity; isolation from others; and indeterminate meaning i...
Chapter
A critical function of religion is to manage the potential for terror inherent in living knowing the only certainty in one’s life is the knowledge that it will inevitably end. We first provide an overview of this terror management theory (TMT) account of religion. We discuss how children are socialized into faith in worldviews that allow them to be...
Chapter
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In their efforts to understand and communicate about abstract concepts related to health (e.g., cancer; recovery), people often represent them metaphorically in terms of superficially unrelated bodily states and experiences that are more concrete and familiar (e.g., physical combat; walking along paths). This chapter reviews qualitative and experim...
Article
Widespread messages use metaphoric language and imagery to prompt recipients to interpret health-related concepts in terms of dissimilar, familiar concepts (e.g., “fight the war on cancer”). When do these messages work? According to conceptual metaphor theory, thinking metaphorically involves looking past concepts' superficial differences to identi...
Poster
Based on Terror management theory (TMT) and Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT), the current perspective proposes that giving death a human form (e.g., The Grim Reaper) is conducive to dealing with reminders of personal mortality. Our findings suggest that death personification can preserve hope for individuals low in personal need for structure (PNS)...
Article
The perception that God controls one's life can bolster motivation to pursue personal goals, but it can also have no impact and even squelch motivation. To better understand how religious beliefs impact self-regulation, the current research built on Compensatory Control Theory's claim that perceiving the environment as predictable (vs. unpredictabl...
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This is a stand-alone reflection on meaning written by two scholars who recently edited a special issue on that topic. The first of four organizing questions concerns the nature of meaning. The meaning of signs (e.g., words) consists of nonphysical connection (e.g., symbolism) and potential organization. Meanwhile, existential meaning (meaning of l...
Article
Background An integration of message framing and sociocultural literature suggests that ethnic health disparities may be reduced by incorporating minority groups’ cultural values into persuasive health messages. Framing messages with metaphors represents one promising strategy for harnessing cultural values to change health outcomes. Still, the eff...
Article
Health communicators publicize messages that use metaphors to compare abstract health-related concepts to concrete concepts in other domains. Such messages aim to change health attitudes and behavior, but do they work? According to Conceptual Metaphor Theory, metaphors can shape thought by transferring personalized knowledge of a concrete concept t...
Article
Marketers routinely use metaphors to compare abstract concepts to concrete concepts in remote domains. For example, a tagline “Supercharge your day” compares energy to electricity. Such messages aim to change consumer attitudes and behavior, but what impact do they have? According to Conceptual Metaphor Theory, metaphors can shape thought by borrow...
Article
In America, White and affluent middle-school students outperform minority students and those of low socioeconomic status on measures of academic performance. This achievement gap is partly attributable to differences in academic engagement. A promising strategy for engaging students is to elicit an academic possible identity: an image of oneself in...
Article
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Conceptual metaphor theory offers a perspective on how and when people find meaning in life. Whereas life’s meaning can be difficult to grasp, metaphor compares life to a relatively more concrete and structured concept. Supporting this account, American adults (Study 1) and German undergraduates (Study 2) who framed life as a journey reported more...
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Inconsistency among findings in the embodied cognition literature suggests a need for theoretical boundary conditions. The current research proposes that conscious attention of a bodily state can moderate its influence on social judgment. Three studies tested this possibility in the case of the demonstrated effect of weight sensations on judgments...
Article
Struggling to control one’s mind can change how the world appears. In prior studies testing the compensatory control theory, reduced control over the external environment motivated the search for perceptual patterns and other forms of structured knowledge, even in remote domains. Going further, the current studies test whether difficulty controllin...
Article
Pursuing meaning in life confronts the individual with abstract ideas about the connections between experiences and identities over time (continuity), the ends that life serves (purpose), and its worth (value). Conceptual metaphor theory is helpful to explain the cognitive strategies people use to understand these ideas. This theory posits that met...
Article
Time seems to speed up as one ages, and it affects how people find meaning in life and plan their future. What creates this perception? We examine the role of “chunking” – mentally bundling individual moments of experience under broad categories. With age, people group experiences into progressively bigger chunks (e.g., work, family). Consequently,...
Article
Political metaphors do more than punch up messages; they can systematically bias observers’ attitudes toward the issue at hand. What, then, is an effective strategy for counteracting a metaphor’s influence? One could ignore or criticize the metaphor, emphasizing strong counterarguments directly pertaining to the target issue. Yet if observers rely...
Article
Belonging to groups and relating to other groups are central parts of our lives, but they confront us with abstract ideas (e.g., identity and power) and nebulous feelings. To make sense of it all, people rely on conceptual metaphors: cognitive tools that ground abstractions in dissimilar, more concrete ideas that are easier to grasp. We review some...
Article
Early accounts of problem solving focused on the ways people represent information directly related to target problems and possible solutions. Subsequent theory and research point to the role of peripheral influences such as heuristics and bodily states. We discuss how metaphor and analogy similarly influence stages of everyday problem solving: Bot...
Article
Prior research demonstrated that an experimentally primed collectivist orientation increased repressive suffering construal (RSC): interpretation of suffering as being caused by deviance and having the purpose of maintaining social order. Furthermore, the effect of collectivism on RSC was mediated by social morality: the belief that society dictate...
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Many corporate logos use pictorial metaphors to influence consumer attitudes. Priming concrete concepts—by means of logo exposure or other procedures—changes attitudes toward dissimilar abstract targets in metaphor-consistent ways. It is assumed, however, that observers apply a logo’s metaphor externally to interpret the company and its service. Th...
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Programming that depicts or implies death constitutes a vital component of daily television broadcasts, yet the impact of such programming on the evaluation of embedded advertising remains unexplored. Using terror management theory, we propose that exposure to routine and commonplace death-related television programming will lead to the differentia...
Article
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Messages in public discourse commonly employ metaphors to describe abstract sociopolitical issues in terms of unrelated concepts. In prior research, exposure to such metaphoric messages influences attitudes. The current research tests the novel possibility that metaphor exposure can elicit defensive avoidance of otherwise benign information. We bui...
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Separate lines of research show that individuals: (a) understand immorality metaphorically as physical contamination; (b) project undesirable self-attributes onto others; and (c) view punishment as eliminating a transgressor’s immorality. Integrating these findings, we hypothesized that individuals project guilt over their own immorality—represente...
Article
People are motivated to perceive themselves as having control over their lives. Consequently, they respond to events and cognitions that reduce control with compensatory strategies for restoring perceived control to baseline levels. Prior theory and research have documented 3 such strategies: bolstering personal agency, affiliating with external sy...
Article
How do people evaluate candidate solutions to abstract problems that are difficult to grasp? According to conceptual metaphor theory, people can conceptualize abstract ideas in terms of well-known bodily states, even if they are not currently experiencing those bodily states. Extending this perspective, we test a novel metaphoric fit hypothesis con...
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Seven studies reveal that nostalgia, a sentimental affection for the past, offers a window to the intrinsic self-concept-who people think they truly are. In Study 1, state nostalgia was associated with higher authenticity and lower extrinsic self-focus (concern with meeting extrinsic value standards). In Study 2, experimentally primed nostalgia inc...
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Previous research shows that people objectify strangers when led to feel uncertain about their ability to positively relate to those targets-termed subjectivity uncertainty. The current research goes further to examine whether, in the context of close relationships, subjectivity uncertainty causes people to adopt simplified perceptions of a relatio...
Article
Social scientists have studied human behavior from the dramaturgical perspective (DP), through which society is viewed as an elaborate play or game in which individuals enact different roles. The DP is more than a theoretical construct; members of individualist, secular societies occasionally adopt the DP with relation to their own lives. The curre...
Article
Attachment theory proposes that people form strong social ties because certain relationships provide feelings of security and support. Traditionally, theorists and researchers have assumed that because this process is innate and evolved, only human targets are capable of meeting a person's needs for security. Recent research challenges this assumpt...
Article
A metaphoric framing is a message comparing an abstract concept (e.g., the economy) to a dissimilar concept that is more concrete and easier to comprehend (e.g., a vehicle). Metaphoric framings are commonly used in public discourse (e.g., magazine editorials, political campaign advertisements) to communicate about controversial sociopolitical issue...
Article
People frequently encounter messages framing abstract sociopolitical issues (e.g., drug law enforcement) metaphorically in terms of superficially unrelated, more concrete concepts (e.g., military combat). These metaphoric framings are not mere figures of speech; instead, they prompt observers to interpret the target issue using their knowledge of t...
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People commonly talk about goals metaphorically as destinations on physical paths extending into the future or as contained in future periods. Does metaphor use have consequences for people's motivation to engage in goal-directed action? Three experiments examine the effect of metaphor use on students' engagement with their academic possible identi...
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Prior research shows that the experience of nostalgia—a sentimental longing for the past—serves to buffer self-threat. Complementing this work, the current research assessed the possibility that nostalgia promotes psychological growth—that is, the potential to cultivate inner potentialities, seek out optimal challenges, and integrate new experience...
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Although there is general agreement the causes and consequences of jealousy bear on self-esteem, research on the experience and expression of jealousy has produced conflicting results regarding gender differences. From the perspective of terror management theory TMT; 1], individuals adopt meaningful cultural worldviews—including culturally derived...
Article
In March–April 2012, using 2 online videos, nonprofit organization Invisible Children initiated a “Stop Kony” campaign to turn Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony into an international enemy. Although the first video was the fastest viral video of all time, interest in the campaign eventually faded away. Might individual-level psychological processes help...
Article
A recurring observation of experimental psychologists is that people prefer, seek out, and even selectively "see" structure in their social and natural environments. Structure-seeking has been observed across a wide range of phenomena-from the detection of patterns in random arrays to affinities for order-providing political, religious, social, and...
Article
Integrating research on intergroup emotions and scapegoating, we propose that moral outrage toward an outgroup perceived to be unjustly harming another outgroup can represent a motivated displacement of blame that reduces collective guilt over ingroup harm-doing. We tested this hypothesis by manipulating the purported cause of working-class America...
Article
Collective guilt from harm one's group has caused an out‐group is often undermined because people minimize or legitimize the harm done (i.e., they generate exonerating cognitions). When a group action has harmed both the in‐group and an out‐group, focusing people on “self‐harm”—ways in which the in‐group has harmed itself—may elicit more collective...
Article
Terror management theory posits that people are motivated to affirm cultural meaning systems, including political ideologies, to avoid the awareness of mortality. Accordingly, studies show that increasing mortality salience (MS) intensifies people's attitudes toward political issues and figures. However, whereas in some studies MS increases affirma...
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Political enemyship is common and diverse, ranging from the scapegoating of minority parties by dominant ones to conspiracy theories about the alleged power of one individual to control wide swaths of society. Many social scientists have argued that enemy figures and out-groups play an essential role in the construction and defense of political ide...
Chapter
According to cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker (1971; 1973; 1975) and the terror management theory (TMT) he inspired (see chapter 2, this volume), humans cope with their mortality by maintaining the sense that they are significant members of a meaningful universe, and thus eligible for immortality—either literally through the heavens and afterl...
Article
Experimental existential psychology (XXP) empirically investigates how people's motives for meaning and personal value influence their lives, and how symbolic self-awareness undergirds these motives and experienced threats to their fulfillment. The authors attempt to synthesize the insights that have already accumulated from XXP, and simultaneously...
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People need to understand why an instance of suffering occurred and what purpose it might have. One widespread account of suffering is a repressive suffering construal (RSC): interpreting suffering as occurring because people deviate from social norms and as having the purpose of reinforcing the social order. Based on the theorizing of Emile Durkhe...
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In 4 studies we examined individuals' reactions when another person intentionally copies their distinctive public identity characteristics. In Study 1, participants reacted with anger and a desire to confront the copycat when many (vs. few) public identity characteristics were copied. Study 2 showed that participants did not react negatively to uni...
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The authors present a model that specifies 2 psychological motives underlying scapegoating, defined as attributing inordinate blame for a negative outcome to a target individual or group, (a) maintaining perceived personal moral value by minimizing feelings of guilt over one's responsibility for a negative outcome and (b) maintaining perceived pers...
Article
Why do people sometimes view others as objects rather than complete persons? We propose that when peo-ple desire successful interactions with others, yet feel uncertain about their ability to navigate others' subjec-tivity, they downplay others' subjective attributes, focusing instead on their concrete attributes. This account suggests that objecti...
Article
The naturalistic fallacy is the erroneous belief that what is natural is morally acceptable. Two studies assessed whether people commit the naturalistic fallacy by testing whether genetic explanations for killing and male promiscuity, as compared to experiential explanations (i.e., learning/“nurture” explanations) increase acceptance of these behav...
Article
Attachment theory posits that close interpersonal relationships provide people with psychological security across the lifespan. Research shows that when people perceive that close others are unreliable, they may seek alternative, non-social sources of security (e.g., deities). Building on this work, the authors hypothesized that attachment to objec...
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Accusations of unjust harm doing by the ingroup threaten the group's moral identity. One strategy for restoring ingroup moral identity after such a threat is competitive victimhood: claiming the ingroup has suffered compared with the harmed outgroup. Men accused of harming women were more likely to claim that men are discriminated against compared...
Article
According to life history theory, environmental cues indicating that one's future survivability is low increase reproductive effort. This suggests that exposure to low survivability cues will increase people's preparedness to engage in sex. However, according to sexual selection theory and parental investment theory, evolutionary pressures favored...
Chapter
TheoryResearchFetishism and ExtremismFuture DirectionsReferences
Article
Research inspired by the compensatory control model (CCM) shows that people compensate for personal control threats by bolstering aspects of the cultural worldview that afford external control. According to the CCM these effects stem from the motivation to maintain perceived order, but it is alternatively possible that they represent indirect effor...
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What combination of dispositional and situational factors leads people to represent their personal value in quantitative terms (e.g., salary) rather than qualitative terms (e.g., virtue)? Integrating research on quantitative information seeking, dispositional epistemic motivation, and learned helplessness, the current article hypothesized that indi...
Article
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We Landau, Meier, & Keefer (2010) reviewed a growing body of research demonstrating metaphors' far-reaching influence on social information processing. In their commentary, IJzerman and Koole (2011) claimed that we devoted insufficient attention to the origin of metaphors, and they reviewed research showing that bodily, social, and cultural experie...
Article
Consistent with conceptual metaphor theory's claim that metaphors operate at a conceptual, and not just linguistic, level, prior research shows that priming perceptions related to concrete concepts influences perceptions related to dissimilar, more abstract concepts in metaphor-consistent ways. However, the theory's claim that metaphors function to...
Article
Drawing on conceptual metaphor perspectives and embodied cognition theories, we proposed that the intrinsic self-concept–who people think they truly are–is represented metaphorically as a physical entity, and that expressions of the intrinsic self-concept are therefore conceptualized in terms of entity activity. Using an empirical strategy for expe...
Article
Drawing on terror management theory and related perspectives on existential motivation, we hypothesized that people manage concerns with personal mortality by imbuing their everyday actions with abstract, self-relevant meaning. Accordingly, we found that subtle reminders of mortality led participants to view hypothetical actions at higher levels of...
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Social cognition is the scientific study of the cognitive events underlying social thought and attitudes. Currently, the field's prevailing theoretical perspectives are the traditional schema view and embodied cognition theories. Despite important differences, these perspectives share the seemingly uncontroversial notion that people interpret and e...
Article
Drawing on terror management theory (TMT), we discuss the psychological motivations that shape personality at two levels: the characteristically human personality common to us all and the individual differences that distinguish some people from others. TMT posits that the motivation to protect the self against deep-rooted fears about mortality driv...
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Perceiving oneself as having powerful enemies, although superficially disagreeable, may serve an important psychological function. On the basis of E. Becker's (1969) existential theorizing, the authors argue that people attribute exaggerated influence to enemies as a means of compensating for perceptions of reduced control over their environment. I...
Article
We present an existential account of the psychological function of artistic activity derived from terror management theory. From this perspective, artistic creation and response alleviate concerns with mortality by affording opportunities to bolster cultural belief systems that provide death-transcending meaning and significance. We review research...
Article
Although the appeal of fame in society seems to be increasing, experimental research has yet to examine the motivations that may underlie this apparent appeal. As a first step toward doing so, we conducted three studies to assess whether concerns with mortality play a role in these phenomena. Based on terror management theory and research, we hypot...
Article
Rosemary's Baby and Straw Dogs are New Hollywood films that explore themes of death and violence. Terror management theory (TMT), a theory of the role of death fear in the human striving for significance, is utilized to clarify various aspects of these films, including their use of death imagery and the motivations of the characters, and to reveal...
Article
Do reminders of mortality increase or decrease perceptions of life's meaning? The authors propose that death-relevant thought has divergent effects on meaning perceptions depending on individuals' personal need for structure (PNS) or dispositional desire for structured knowledge. In prior research, high-PNS individuals primed with mortality-related...
Article
We propose that metaphor is a mechanism by which motivational states in one conceptual domain can influence attitudes in a superficially unrelated domain. Two studies tested whether activating motives related to the self-concept influences attitudes toward social topics when the topics' metaphoric association to the motives is made salient through...
Article
Drawing on terror management theory, we propose that maintaining a coherent autobiography protects the individual from mortality concerns by imbuing experience over time with significance and order. Two studies test whether mortality salience combined with a threat to autobiographical coherence (induced by an alphabetical organization of past event...