School of Psychological Science

Postgraduate Profiles


Zenobia Talati


Start date

Feb 2009

Submission date

Apr 2013

Zenobia Talati

Zenobia Talati profile photo


Comparing the effects of mortality salience and loss of control on worldview defence: An examination of moderators and outcomes


I study how people react and behave when they perceive themselves to have less control over a situation than they desire. To induce a loss of control, I have participants reflect on death (mortality salience) since this is an uncontrollable event. I then measure their reactions after this. I have found that people report feeling a greater attachment to others in their ingroups after writing about death and experiencing a loss of control.

My research is trying to understand why it is that we feel so attached to our ingroups after thinking about death. Specifically I am interested in finding out whether these reactions occur as a result of just thinking about death in general or whether it is specifically due to the loss of control we experience when we think about death. I argue that thinking about death reminds people of how little control they have over their lives and this is what drives their reactions. That is, in order to alleviate any negative feelings that result from experiencing a loss of control, people choose to align themselves with their social groups since these groups are large, powerful and familiar. Associating with these groups helps them to regain their feeling of control.

I have run 4 studies and tested over 600 participants. My first study tested a new way to induce a loss of control in participants. My second study looked at whether an individual’s self-esteem or baseline perceptions of control influenced their responses after a loss of control. My third study explored the different control restoration strategies people engage in after being faced with a loss of control. And my fourth study tested this phenomenon in a real world sample of Emergency Department workers.

Why my research is important

My research helps explain some of the key drivers behind human behaviour. Studying how people react in situations where they have low control is important as this is something we are confronted with on a regular basis. Additionally, I have shown that the findings of my studies apply in organisational settings by examining how experiencing a loss of control at work can influence employees’ perceptions of their organisation.


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Friday, 23 January, 2015 3:27 PM