Age-Related Differences in Responses to Thoughts of One's Own Death

Mortality Salience and Judgments of Moral Transgressions

Molly Maxfield, Tom Pyszczynski, Benjamin Kluck, Cathy R. Cox, Jeff L Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, David Weise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two experiments explored age differences in response to reminders of death. Terror management research has shown that death reminders lead to increased adherence to and defense of one's cultural worldview. In Study 1, the effect of mortality salience (MS) on evaluations of moral transgressions made by younger and older adults was compared. Whereas younger adults showed the typical pattern of harsher judgments in response to MS, older adults did not. Study 2 compared younger and older adults' responses to both the typical MS induction and a more subtle death reminder. Whereas younger adults responded to both MS inductions with harsher evaluations, older adults made significantly less harsh evaluations after the subtle MS induction. Explanations for this developmental shift in responses to reminders of death are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-353
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

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Young Adult
Mortality
Research

Keywords

  • fear of death
  • healthy aging
  • moral judgments and aging
  • terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Age-Related Differences in Responses to Thoughts of One's Own Death : Mortality Salience and Judgments of Moral Transgressions. / Maxfield, Molly; Pyszczynski, Tom; Kluck, Benjamin; Cox, Cathy R.; Greenberg, Jeff L; Solomon, Sheldon; Weise, David.

In: Psychology and Aging, Vol. 22, No. 2, 06.2007, p. 341-353.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Maxfield, Molly ; Pyszczynski, Tom ; Kluck, Benjamin ; Cox, Cathy R. ; Greenberg, Jeff L ; Solomon, Sheldon ; Weise, David. / Age-Related Differences in Responses to Thoughts of One's Own Death : Mortality Salience and Judgments of Moral Transgressions. In: Psychology and Aging. 2007 ; Vol. 22, No. 2. pp. 341-353.
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