The impact of mortality salience on reckless driving: A test of terror management mechanisms

Orit Taubman Ben-Ari, Victor Florian, Mario Mikulincer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations

Abstract

A series of 4 studies, based on terror management theory (TMT), examined the effects of mortality salience on risk taking while driving. In all the studies, participants (N = 603) reported on the relevance of driving to their self-esteem. Then half of them were exposed to various mortality salience inductions, and the remaining to a control condition. The dependent measures were either self-reported behavioral intentions of risky driving or driving speed in a car simulator. In Study 4, half of the participants in each condition received positive feedback about their quality of driving. Findings showed that mortality salience inductions led to more risky driving than the control condition only among individuals who perceived driving as relevant to their self-esteem. The introduction of positive feedback about driving eliminated this effect. The results were discussed in light of the self-enhancing mechanisms proposed by TMT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume76
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1999

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