Finding everland: Flight fantasies and the desire to transcend mortality

Florette Cohen, Daniel Sullivan, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, Daniel M. Ogilvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fantasies and dreams of flight are ubiquitous across cultures and throughout history and often linked to immortality. A perspective derived from terror management theory holds that flight fantasies are appealing because they suggest transcendence of the limitations of creatureliness and mortality. Five studies established the link between mortality concerns and flight fantasy. In Study 1, participants showed greater desire to fly after contemplating death compared to a control topic. In Study 2, participants showed greater desire to fly, but not to engage in other supernatural acts, after contemplating death compared to a control topic. In Studies 3 and 4, participants who engaged in flight fantasy did not subsequently demonstrate defensive reactions to a death reminder observed in nonflight conditions. Study 5 showed that flight fantasy, but not other pleasurable or empowering fantasies, decreased death thought accessibility after mortality salience, and this effect was uniquely mediated by a feeling of freedom from bodily limits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-102
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

Keywords

  • Dissociation
  • Existential
  • Fantasy
  • Supernatural
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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