The Appeal of Tragedy: A Terror Management Perspective

Jamie L. Goldenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, Kerri D. Johnson, Jeff L Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The experiment reported in this article assessed the terror management explanation of the appeal of tragedy. From this perspective, vicarious experience of tragedy, such as through film and literature, provides a safe way of approaching the fear associated with one's own mortality. Thus, we hypothesized that reminding participants of their mortality would increase liking for and emotional response to a tragic excerpt from a novel. Participants were randomly assigned to answer open-ended questions about either their own death or a neutral topic and then read two excerpts from Ernest Hemingway novels, one tragic and one nontragic in content. In support of the terror management hypothesis, participants in the mortality salience condition responded more emotionally to, and were more touched by, the tragic excerpt, found the nontragic excerpt less enjoyable, and cared less for the female character in the nontragic passage than did the control participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-329
Number of pages17
JournalMedia Psychology
Volume1
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

Fingerprint

appeal
terrorism
mortality
Mortality
management
Fear
Experiments
anxiety
death
experiment
experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

Goldenberg, J. L., Pyszczynski, T., Johnson, K. D., Greenberg, J. L., & Solomon, S. (1999). The Appeal of Tragedy: A Terror Management Perspective. Media Psychology, 1(4), 313-329.

The Appeal of Tragedy : A Terror Management Perspective. / Goldenberg, Jamie L.; Pyszczynski, Tom; Johnson, Kerri D.; Greenberg, Jeff L; Solomon, Sheldon.

In: Media Psychology, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1999, p. 313-329.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Goldenberg, JL, Pyszczynski, T, Johnson, KD, Greenberg, JL & Solomon, S 1999, 'The Appeal of Tragedy: A Terror Management Perspective', Media Psychology, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 313-329.
Goldenberg JL, Pyszczynski T, Johnson KD, Greenberg JL, Solomon S. The Appeal of Tragedy: A Terror Management Perspective. Media Psychology. 1999;1(4):313-329.
Goldenberg, Jamie L. ; Pyszczynski, Tom ; Johnson, Kerri D. ; Greenberg, Jeff L ; Solomon, Sheldon. / The Appeal of Tragedy : A Terror Management Perspective. In: Media Psychology. 1999 ; Vol. 1, No. 4. pp. 313-329.
@article{2336aca57cae4acf9e9ecddd02eac0c9,
title = "The Appeal of Tragedy: A Terror Management Perspective",
abstract = "The experiment reported in this article assessed the terror management explanation of the appeal of tragedy. From this perspective, vicarious experience of tragedy, such as through film and literature, provides a safe way of approaching the fear associated with one's own mortality. Thus, we hypothesized that reminding participants of their mortality would increase liking for and emotional response to a tragic excerpt from a novel. Participants were randomly assigned to answer open-ended questions about either their own death or a neutral topic and then read two excerpts from Ernest Hemingway novels, one tragic and one nontragic in content. In support of the terror management hypothesis, participants in the mortality salience condition responded more emotionally to, and were more touched by, the tragic excerpt, found the nontragic excerpt less enjoyable, and cared less for the female character in the nontragic passage than did the control participants.",
author = "Goldenberg, {Jamie L.} and Tom Pyszczynski and Johnson, {Kerri D.} and Greenberg, {Jeff L} and Sheldon Solomon",
year = "1999",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "1",
pages = "313--329",
journal = "Media Psychology",
issn = "1521-3269",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Appeal of Tragedy

T2 - A Terror Management Perspective

AU - Goldenberg, Jamie L.

AU - Pyszczynski, Tom

AU - Johnson, Kerri D.

AU - Greenberg, Jeff L

AU - Solomon, Sheldon

PY - 1999

Y1 - 1999

N2 - The experiment reported in this article assessed the terror management explanation of the appeal of tragedy. From this perspective, vicarious experience of tragedy, such as through film and literature, provides a safe way of approaching the fear associated with one's own mortality. Thus, we hypothesized that reminding participants of their mortality would increase liking for and emotional response to a tragic excerpt from a novel. Participants were randomly assigned to answer open-ended questions about either their own death or a neutral topic and then read two excerpts from Ernest Hemingway novels, one tragic and one nontragic in content. In support of the terror management hypothesis, participants in the mortality salience condition responded more emotionally to, and were more touched by, the tragic excerpt, found the nontragic excerpt less enjoyable, and cared less for the female character in the nontragic passage than did the control participants.

AB - The experiment reported in this article assessed the terror management explanation of the appeal of tragedy. From this perspective, vicarious experience of tragedy, such as through film and literature, provides a safe way of approaching the fear associated with one's own mortality. Thus, we hypothesized that reminding participants of their mortality would increase liking for and emotional response to a tragic excerpt from a novel. Participants were randomly assigned to answer open-ended questions about either their own death or a neutral topic and then read two excerpts from Ernest Hemingway novels, one tragic and one nontragic in content. In support of the terror management hypothesis, participants in the mortality salience condition responded more emotionally to, and were more touched by, the tragic excerpt, found the nontragic excerpt less enjoyable, and cared less for the female character in the nontragic passage than did the control participants.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0347768407&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0347768407&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0347768407

VL - 1

SP - 313

EP - 329

JO - Media Psychology

JF - Media Psychology

SN - 1521-3269

IS - 4

ER -