Navigation Links
A grudge match between humanity and death -- who wins?
Date:2/28/2011

FAIRFAX, Va., February 28, 2011Death can be terrifying. Recognizing that death is inescapable and unpredictable makes us incredibly vulnerable, and can invoke feelings of anxiety, hatred and fear. But new research by George Mason University psychology professor Todd Kashdan shows that being a mindful person not only makes you generally more tolerant and less defensive, but it can also actually neutralize fears of dying and death.

"Mindfulness is being open, receptive, and attentive to whatever is unfolding in the present moment," says Kashdan. In his latest research, Kashdan and his colleagues wanted to find out if mindful people had different attitudes about death and dying.

"Generally, when reminded of our mortality, we are extremely defensive. Like little kids who nearly suffocate under blanket protection to fend off the monster in the closet, the first thing we try to do is purge any death-related thoughts or feelings from our mind," says Kashdan.

"On the fringes of this conscious awareness, we try another attempt to ward off death anxiety. We violently defend beliefs and practices that provide a sense of stability and meaning in our lives."

Kashdan says this practice often has an ugly sideintolerance and abuse. "When people are reminded that death is impending, their racist tendencies increase," he says. In a series of experiments conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia, for example, white people asked to read about a crime committed by another person give harsher penalties for black compared with white defendants after being reminded of their mortality.

Kasdan wondered what might prevent these defensive, intolerant reactions from occurring. In a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, he and his colleagues looked at what might happen when mindfulness and the terror of death collide.

"A grudge match between humanity and death," says Kashdan.

If mindful people are more willing to explore whatever happens in the present, even if it uncomfortable, will they show less defensiveness when their sense of self is threatened by a confrontation with their own mortality?

Based on the results of 7 different experiments, the answer appears to be yes. When reminded about their death and asked to write about what will happen when their bodies decompose (in grisly detail), less mindful people showed an intense dislike for foreigners that mention what's wrong with the United States (pro-U.S. bias), greater prejudice against black managers who discriminated against a white employee in a promotion decision (pro-white bias), and harsher penalties for social transgressions such as prostitution, marital infidelities, and drug use by physicians that led to surgical mishaps.

Across these various situations, on the contrast, mindful people showed a lack of defensiveness toward people that didn't share their worldview. Mindful people were diplomatic and tolerant regardless of whether they were prompted to think about their slow, systematic decline toward obliteration.

"What we found was that when asked to deeply contemplate their death, mindful people spent more time writing (as opposed to avoiding) and used more death-related words when reflecting on the experience. This suggests that a greater openness to processing the threat of death allows compassion and fairness to reign. In this laboratory staged battle, mindfulness alters the power that death holds over us," Kashdan says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tara Laskowski
tlaskows@gmu.edu
703-993-8815
George Mason University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Winning Wrestlers Get Bigger Testosterone Boost After Match
2. Matching Language, True Love?
3. World Cup Matches Might Boost Your Mental Health
4. Matching Heart Donors by Race Unnecessary?
5. Infosolve Technologies Demonstrates OpenDQ's Massively Scalable Fuzzy Matching Capabilities on a Cloud Platform
6. Matching Tumor Types to Drugs Boosts Lung Cancer Outcomes
7. Residency match results not encouraging for adults needing primary care
8. Research Indicates First Time Trade Show Attendees Unable to Select the Best Display Systems to Match their Budgets -- Alta Graphics Provides the Answers
9. MatchMySport.com Aims to Reduce Obesity Levels Through Sports Participation by Finding Sports Partners/Players/Teams
10. Employee Donations for Haiti Relief Matched by Capital BlueCross, Added to Corporate Contribution
11. Multiple Medalist Kristina Groves Matches Hain Celestials $5,000 Donation to Right to Play
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... PurhealthRX , a leading Health and ... Applying the Purzorb™process to full spectrum CBD oil will revolutionize the rapidly growing CBD ... that can be easily incorporated into liquid products, while reducing costs to end users. ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) ... a collection of specialty vendors and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed ... and wellness services offered by the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Coveros, ... Development, has been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid ... to accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and high ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and fastest ... to open a flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway 190, ... next to Office Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows it ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... that we intend to develop to enable prevention of a major side effect ... hearing loss, especially in pediatric patients. For cisplatin, hearing loss is FDA listed ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017  BioPharmX Corporation ... scientific team that developed an innovative way to use ... of the delivery of new drugs. ... Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference will show how researchers from ... Hospital, Harvard Medical School used a suite of imaging ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Oct. 11, 2017  True Health, a leader ... its effort during National Breast Cancer Awareness month ... risks. Research ... calculated that more than 10 million American women ... in BRCA1 or BRCA2 and have not had testing. ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017  NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in ... medical-grade battery-powered display stand specifically designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative ... into a clinical solution to support the improvement of patient outcomes, ... Design ... Solution ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: