Is the Meaning of Life Also the Meaning of Death? A Terror Management Perspective Reply

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29 Scopus citations


The human quality of self-awareness makes individuals aware of their inventible death. How does this knowledge influence meaning in life and is influenced by it? Four studies examined the association between meaning in life and awareness of death, through a Terror Management Theory perspective. Study 1 assessed the effects of a mortality reminder on self-reports of meaning in life, while exploring the moderating role of self-esteem. The findings indicate a trend in which after a mortality salience induction, high self-esteem individuals tend to view their lives as more meaningful. Studies 2 and 3 examined the effect of thinking about the meaning of life on death-thought accessibility, and found it to be higher in both the mortality and meaning salience conditions, as compared to a control condition. Study 4 sought to discover whether reminders of one's meaning in life would yield cultural worldview validation, and indeed revealed a more severe perception of social transgressions following both mortality and meaning salience. Findings highlight the understanding that meaning in life is a basic existential concept closely related to awareness of death's inevitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Meaning in life
  • Terror Management Theory


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