Mortality Salience


Mortality salience refers to a psychological state in which a person is consciously thinking about his or her own death.


Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, and Sheldon Solomon coined the term in 1986 to refer to a way to assess terror management theory. The theory posits that the fear of death motivates individuals to sustain faith in a cultural belief system or worldview that makes life seem meaningful and sustain the belief that they are significant and capable of enduring beyond their own death. Greenberg and colleagues proposed that, if the theory is correct, then having people think about their own death—that is, mortality salience—should increase people's support of their own cultural worldview.


The most common method to induce mortality salience is to ask participants to respond to ...

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