Hopelessly mortal: the role of mortality salience, immortality and self-esteem in personal hope

Wisman, Arnaud and Heflick, Nathan A. (2016) Hopelessly mortal: the role of mortality salience, immortality and self-esteem in personal hope. Cognition and Emotion, 30 (5). pp. 868-889. ISSN 0269-9931

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Hopelessly mortal: the role of mortality salience, immortality and self-esteem in personal hope

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Abstract

Do people lose hope when thinking about death? Based on Terror Management Theory, we predicted
that thoughts of death (i.e., mortality salience) would reduce personal hope for people low, but not
high, in self-esteem, and that this reduction in hope would be ameliorated by promises of immortality.
In Studies 1 and 2, mortality salience reduced personal hope for people low in self-esteem, but not for
people high in self-esteem. In Study 3, mortality salience reduced hope for people low in self-esteem
when they read an argument that there is no afterlife, but not when they read “evidence” supporting
life after death. In Study 4, this effect was replicated with an essay affirming scientific medical
advances that promise immortality. Together, these findings uniquely demonstrate that thoughts of
mortality interact with trait self-esteem to cause changes in personal hope, and that literal immortality
beliefs can aid psychological adjustment when thinking about death. Implications for understanding
personal hope, trait self-esteem, afterlife beliefs and terror management are discussed.

Keywords:hope, terror management, afterlife belief, bmjconvert, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:18465
Deposited On:25 Sep 2015 07:52

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