|How Thinking About Death Affects Behavior|
|Living - The Dialogue|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Sunday, 22 May 2011 02:00|
Colchester, UK. How you think about death affects how you behave in your life. That is the conclusion of researchers who had people either think about death in the abstract or in a specific, personal way.
They found people who thought specifically about their own death were more likely to demonstrate concern for society by donating blood, as reported in the journal Psychological Science.
Laura E.R. Blackie is a Ph.D. student at the University of Essex who studies existential psychology. Her PhD project is focused on how thinking about mortality affects behavior. She wonders whether thinking about mortality in a specific manner tailored to the individual (e.g., death reflection) results in specific distinct motivations, as compared to thinking about mortality in a subtle and abstract manner (e.g., mortality salience).
Philip J. Cozzolino is Laura Blackie's advisor at Essex. He concentrates on the motivated social-cognitive processes on which individuals rely to make sense of themselves and the world. He is particularly interested in the psychological and social consequences that occur when individuals face threats to their constructed worldviews, values, and norms.
Blackie and Cozzolino recruited 90 people in a British town center.
Next, the participants were given an article, supposedly from the BBC, about blood donations.
"Death is a very powerful motivation," Blackie says. "People seem aware that their life is limited. That can be one of the best gifts that we have in life, motivating us to embrace life and embrace goals that are important to us."
When people think about death abstractly, they may be more likely to fear it, while thinking specifically about their own death "enables people to integrate the idea of death into their lives more fully," she says. Thinking about their mortality in a more personal and authentic manner may make them think more about what they value in life.
CitationOf blood and death: A test of dual-existential systems in the context of prosocial intentions. Laura E.R. Blackie and Philip J. Cozzolino. Psychological Science 2011; In press.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 21 May 2011 19:51|