In brief: Death and the candidates

In brief

Death and the candidates

An ingenious experiment suggests that people reminded of their own deaths are attracted to visionary, charismatic leaders who promise them a form of symbolic immortality.

About 200 students were divided into two groups. In the first group, they were asked to describe the emotions aroused by the thought of their own deaths and to write what they thought would happen to them when they died. The second group responded to similar questions with reference to taking examinations rather than dying. Then all read campaign statements from imaginary candidates for governor of the state.

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