Mortality salience, religiosity, and indefinite life extension: evidence of a reciprocal relationship between afterlife beliefs and support for forestalling death

Uri Lifshin, Jeff L Greenberg, Melissa Soenke, Alex Darrell, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Strides are being made in medicine toward the possibility of indefinite life extension (ILE). Research shows that people cope with the prospect of mortality with various ways to feel transcendent of death, including investing in religion and afterlife beliefs. But how would these investments be affected by the possibility of ILE through medical science? The current research provides an initial effort to answer this question by testing whether, after mortality has been made salient, portraying indefinite life extension as plausible might reduce investment in afterlife beliefs. Results showed that for participants low in religiosity, mortality salience, or an essay supporting the plausibility of ILE, decreased belief in the afterlife and increased support for ILE. Furthermore, among participants low in religiosity, the increase in support for ILE was mediated by decreased afterlife belief. These findings provide the first evidence of the psychological impact of the prospect of indefinite life extension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalReligion, Brain and Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 20 2017

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Keywords

  • afterlife beliefs
  • Life extension technologies
  • mortality salience
  • religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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