Self-consciousness and death cognitions from a terror management perspective

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Two studies explored the connection between self-consciousness and death cognitions. In Study 1 (n1/456), a positive association was found between accessibility of death-related thoughts and the ruminative dimension of self-consciousness. In Study 2 (n 1/4212), a mortality salience induction led to higher validation of cultural worldviews (a more severe perception of social transgressions) than a control group, but only among individuals with lower self-consciousness, whereas participants characterized by higher self-consciousness did not make increased use of this cultural anxiety buffer. Rather, their naturally heightened death awareness led them to react to social transgressors in a neutral condition in the way usually found only after a mortality salience induction. Gender could not alternatively account for these findings. The results are explained in terms of terror management theory. It is suggested that a high level of self-consciousness may serve as an internal death reminder, leading to greater cultural worldview validation on a regular basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-892
Number of pages22
JournalDeath Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2010


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