Previous terror management research has shown that following mortality salience, there is an effortful suppression of death-related thoughts, reducing death-thought accessibility. This is followed, after a delay, by an increase in death thought accessibility, which instigates defense of the cultural worldview; that defense, in turn, reduces accessibility of death-related thoughts. Prior research has not shown, however, whether this postworldview defense reduction in death thought accessibility is due to an actual dissipation or to renewed efforts at suppressing such cognitions. The present study assessed these two possibilities by manipulating whether participants contemplated their mortality, had the opportunity for worldview defense, and were under high or low cognitive load. Results supported the dissipation explanation by showing that high cognitive load had no effect on levels of death thought accessibility after participants defended their worldview in response to mortality salience.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science