Death reminders increase agreement with extremist views but not violent extremist action in Indonesian Muslims

Muhammad Iqbal, Kerry S O'Brien, Ana-Maria Bliuc, Matteo Vergani

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Using terror management theory, we examined whether mortality salience (MS; death-related cognitions) increased support for religious and political extremism and/or violent extremism in young Indonesian Muslims. Muslim and non-Muslim Indonesian students studying in Australia were randomized to an MS or control condition. Following completion of a distracter task, participants were asked to rate their agreement/disagreement with another Indonesian Muslim student?s (bogus) statements toward extremist views and violent extremist actions. After controlling for alienation, Muslim students in the MS condition reported significantly higher levels of support for extremist views than did non-Muslims. There was no significant effect of MS on violent extremist action in either Muslims or non-Muslims. The results suggest that reminders of death (MS) may lead young Muslims to be more supportive of politically and religiously extreme views, but not violent action. Our findings lend partial support to previous research in Iranian Muslim students; however, further research is needed to establish factors that can result in increased support for violent extremism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891– 897
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • terrorism
  • extremism
  • violent extremism
  • Indonesia
  • terror management theory

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