Terrified Killers: the Provocation of Feelings of Vulnerability to Death through a Bug Extermination Task.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The theoretical perspective of Robert Lifton suggests that killing may provoke feelings of fear and vulnerability to death which may act as an impetus towards further killing. Through the use of a bug extermination paradigm two studies were conducted to test this theory. The first study tested the hypothesis that killing would provoke within the participant feelings of fear and vulnerability to death. The results found no suppoli for a direct relationship between killing and provocation of feelings of fear or vulnerability to death. The second study sought to establish if the relationship between the perpetrator of an act of killing and their victim moderated the effects of killing on that perpetrator. Results found that the level of perceived similarity of the patiicipants to the bugs was an important moderating variable with killing provoking feelings of vulnerability to death only in those patiicipants who had high ratings of perceived similarity to the bugs. The results indicate the importance of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim when an act of killing occurs. The results are then discussed in light of their importance and application to the current research literature.