Fatal distraction: The impact of mortality salience on dissociative responses to 9/11 and subsequent anxiety sensitivity

Spec Kosloff, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, Florette Cohen, Beth Gershuny, Clay Routledge, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two studies examined whether dissociation from 9/11 -related thoughts and emotions would be higher after mortality salience (MS) relative to a control condition. Because dissociation is believed to contribute to anxiety disorders, we also examined whether higher ratings of dissociation after MS would lead to higher reported anxiety sensitivity. In Study 1, MS participants reported higher levels of peritraumatic dissociation from 9/11 and higher levels of anxiety sensitivity than control participants who contemplated an upcoming exam. Furthermore, the extent to which MS induced higher levels of anxiety sensitivity was fully mediated by the extent to which MS caused greater dissociation. In Study 2, we examined whether heightened anxiety sensitivity is specifically a consequence of MS-induced dissociation or whether MS-induced worldview bolstering also causes higher anxiety sensitivity. Results indicated that MS participants reported more peritraumatic dissociation from 9/11 or bolstered support for their worldview; but, whereas higher dissociation in response to a death reminder led to higher anxiety sensitivity, worldview bolstering did not. Implications for understanding the role of mortality concerns in psychological reactions to 9/11 and other acts of terrorism are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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