Navigation Links
The bright side of death: Awareness of mortality can result in positive behaviors
Date:4/30/2012

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Contemplating death doesn't necessarily lead to morose despondency, fear, aggression or other negative behaviors, as previous research has suggested. Following a review of dozens of studies, University of Missouri researchers found that thoughts of mortality can lead to decreased militaristic attitudes, better health decisions, increased altruism and helpfulness, and reduced divorce rates.

"According to terror management theory, people deal with their awareness of mortality by upholding cultural beliefs and seeking to become part of something larger and more enduring than themselves, such as nations or religions," said Jamie Arndt, study co-author and professor of psychological sciences. "Depending on how that manifests itself, positive outcomes can be the result."

For example, in one study American test subjects were reminded of death or a control topic and then either imagined a local catastrophe or were reminded of the global threat of climate change. Their militaristic attitudes toward Iran were then evaluated. After being reminded of death, people who were reminded of climate change were more likely to express lower levels of militarism than those who imagined a local disaster.

"The differences seen in this study resulted from the size of the group with which the test subjects identified," said Ken Vail, lead author and psychology doctoral student. "In both cases, they responded to the awareness of mortality by seeking to protect the relevant groups. When the threat was localized, subjects aggressively defended their local group; but when the threat was globalized, subjects associated themselves with humanity as a whole and became more peaceful and cooperative."

After real catastrophes, such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, people's heightened fear and awareness of death had both positive and negative effects.

"Both the news media and researchers tended to focus on the negative reaction to these acts of terrorism, such as violence and discrimination against Muslims, but studies also found that people expressed higher degrees of gratitude, hope, kindness and leadership after 9/11." Vail said. "In another example, after the Oklahoma City bombing, divorce rates went down in surrounding counties. After some stimuli escalates one's awareness of death, the positive reaction is to try to reaffirm that the world has positive aspects as well."

In their personal lives, people also were influenced to make positive choices after their awareness of death was increased. Studies found that conscious thoughts of death can inspire intentions to exercise more. Other studies found that keeping mortality in mind can reduce smoking and increase sunscreen use.

Even subconscious awareness of death can more influenced behavior. In one experiment, passers-by who had recently overheard conversations mentioning the value of helping were more likely to help strangers if they were walking within sight of cemeteries.

"Once we started developing this study we were surprised how much research showed positive outcomes from awareness of mortality," said Arndt. "It seems that people may be just as capable of doing the opposite and 'looking on the bright side of death,' as the Monty Python song says."


'/>"/>

Contact: Timothy Wall
walltj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Dentist Gives Advice to Keep Holiday Smiles Bright
2. The future of stem cell applications challenging, bright
3. Bright Side of Paying More at the Pump? Fewer Car Crashes
4. Bright Lights at Night May Raise Diabetes Risk
5. Fulbright Award has UC educator examining health challenges in China
6. Highlighting a Bright Spot in a Down Economy, Career Step to Re-launch Online Healthcare Training Program
7. Bright Green Leadership Partners with TriplePundit to Help Businesses Improve Their Green Marketing Online
8. Epione Reveals a ‘Bright' New Solution for Dull, Sun Damaged Skin
9. CWRU global TB expert receives prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award
10. Rugged High Bright Touch Screen Computer Designed and Tested for the Most Extreme Environments
11. SAFC Hitech(R) Well Positioned for High-Brightness LED Manufacturing Boom With TMG Expansion at Bromborough UK Plant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... Women’s athletic apparel ... their second pop-up shop for three consecutive weekends. The pop-up shop is a ... Barbara community, a community full of women who appreciate the most premium goods ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... The 12th session of the Silicon Valley BioTalks ... in Palo Alto, CA. This Bay Area biotech event will focus on “Setting Up ... from the pharmaceutical company Hallux, biopharma Apexigen, Contract Research Organization (CRO) Experien Group, and ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Furthering its position as the industry leader ... for Drug Free Sport (Drug Free Sport®) is excited to expand on details of ... July 12 – 13 in Kansas City, MO, will gather sports industry professionals to ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... , ... One Florida-based plastic surgeon’s enthusiasm is proving to be contagious among ... May 13th on Vanity Fair. In fact, as the article explains, more than a ... more than 800,000 Snapchat fans. Commenting on this trend, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, also known ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Today American University ... College of Medicine announced the AUA-FIU Global MD Program. Students in the ... from AUA and a Certificate of Completion from the FIU Herbert Wertheim College ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... HONG KONG , May 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... primer stent de doble terapia del mundo, introduce ... fístula arteriovenosa. OrbusNeich, una compañía global ... cambian las vidas, ha expandido su cartera incluyendo ... catéteres balón JADE™ y Scoreflex™ PTA son los ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 Dutch surgeons ... best practices around the world and treat patients on a global ... Africa , Asia and the US ... with instant messaging and networking in a totally secure environment. ... in a war zone working together with a surgeon at Harvard ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... India , May 23, 2016 ... spread across 163 pages, profiles 12 companies and the ... tables and figures on the industry and its players. ... that is comprehensive in nature, details the current state ... the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: