Death awareness and body-self dualism: a why and how of afterlife belief

Heflick, Nathan A. and Goldenberg, Jamie L. and Hart, Joshua and Kamp, Siri-Maria (2015) Death awareness and body-self dualism: a why and how of afterlife belief. European Journal of Social Psychology, 45 (2). pp. 267-275. ISSN 0046-2772

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2075

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Death awareness and body-self dualism: a why and how of afterlife belief

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Abstract

Belief in life after death offers potential comfort in the face of inevitable death. However, afterlife belief likely requires not only an awareness of death but also body–self dualism—the perception that the self (e.g., the mind) is distinct from the physical, undeniably mortal, body. In turn, we hypothesized that mortality salience (MS) should heighten afterlife belief only when dualism is facilitated. Study 1 found that MS increased belief for people high, relative to low, in trait mind–body dualism. In Study 2, MS only increased belief when people first wrote about their thoughts and personality, which a pilot study confirmed facilitated dualistic belief, relative to thinking about the physical self. Study 3 used the brain–computer interface technology to induce a dualistic experience: MS increased belief when participants accurately “typed” without the use of their external body (i.e., no hands). Together, these findings support the position that mortality awareness and body–self dualism constitute a “why” and “how” of afterlife belief.

Keywords:mortality awareness, afterlife belief, religion, mind-body dualism, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:18881
Deposited On:30 Sep 2015 13:55

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