Greed, Death, and Values: From Terror Management to Transcendence Management Theory

California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, California, United States
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Impact Factor: 2.52). 04/2004; 30(3):278-92. DOI: 10.1177/0146167203260716
Source: PubMed


Research supporting terror management theory has shown that participants facing their death (via mortality salience) exhibit more greed than do control participants. The present research attempts to distinguish mortality salience from other forms of mortality awareness. Specifically, the authors look to reports of near-death experiences and posttraumatic growth which reveal that many people who nearly die come to view seeking wealth and possession as empty and meaningless. Guided by these reports, a manipulation called death reflection was generated. In Study 1, highly extrinsic participants who experienced death reflection exhibited intrinsic behavior. In Study 2, the manipulation was validated, and in Study 3, death reflection and mortality salience manipulations were compared. Results showed that mortality salience led highly extrinsic participants to manifest greed, whereas death reflection again generated intrinsic, unselfish behavior. The construct of value orientation is discussed along with the contrast between death reflection manipulation and mortality salience.

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Available from: Philip J Cozzolino
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    • "Thus, the reflections on death that reportedly produce positive life changes following NDEs appear to produce a shift away from what would otherwise be an increased pursuit of extrinsic, culturally dictated goals. However, the " death reflection " condition used in[137]was multifaceted. In addition to visualizing their own death in detail, participants in the death reflection condition were also asked to (1) adopt a limited time perspective by imagining how they would handle their final moments; (2) engage in a life-review; and (3) do a perspective-taking exercise about the impact their death would have on their family. "

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    • "For example, Templer's (1970) The Fear of Death Scale is a one-dimensional measure, while Florian and Snowden's (1989) measure addresses several dimensions of death fright, but neither considers various positive functions and outcomes that may be associated with MA. Although prosocial behaviors have been noted in survivors (Cozzolino, Staples, Meyers, & Samboceti, 2004 ), death acceptance has received little attention, with the exception of the creation of two measures: Ray and Najman (1974) produced a brief, seven-item measure of death acceptance, while Klug and Sinha (1987) produced a 16-item measure composed of two subscales measuring death acceptance in relation to confrontation (the conscious contemplation of one's death) and integration (the positive emotional assimilation of the consequences of death). In the former, the confrontation items are mainly about rejecting avoidance of death awareness rather than being about a positive notion of acceptance. "
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    ABSTRACT: For each of eight literature-identified conceptual dimensions of mortality awareness, questionnaire items were generated, producing 89 in all. A total of 359 participants responded to these items and to questionnaires measuring health attitudes, risk-taking, rebelliousness and demographic variables. Multivariate correlational analyses investigated the underlying structure of the item pool and the construct validity as well as the reliability of the emergent empirically derived subscales. Five components, rather than eight, were identified. Given the item content of each, the associated mortality awareness subscales were labelled as: legacy, fearfulness, acceptance, disempowerment, and disengagement. Each attained an acceptable level of internal reliability. Relationships with other variables supported the construct validity of these empirically derived subscales and more generally of this five-factor model. In conclusion, this new multidimensional measure and model of mortality awareness extends our understanding of this important aspect of human existence and supports a more integrative and optimistic approach to mortality awareness than previously available.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · OMEGA--Journal of Death and Dying
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    • "Another approach could help people overcome the typical tendency to respond to felt insecurity by increasing the relative priority they place on materialistic aspirations. For example, studies have found that some people decrease the relative importance they place on money and wealth after they experience traumatic events (Ring 1984; Tedeschi and Calhoun 2004) or deeply reflect on their own mortality (Cozzolino et al. 2004; Lykins et al. 2007). A better understanding of the factors that help people respond to feelings of insecurity by decreasing, rather than increasing, the relative importance they place on materialistic values might help improve people's well- being. "
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    ABSTRACT: Few studies have examined how changes in materialism relate to changes in well-being; fewer have experimentally manipulated materialism to change well-being. Studies 1, 2, and 3 examined how changes in materialistic aspirations related to changes in well-being, using varying time frames (12 years, 2 years, and 6 months), samples (US young adults and Icelandic adults), and measures of materialism and well-being. Across all three studies, results supported the hypothesis that people’s well-being improves as they place relatively less importance on materialistic goals and values, whereas orienting toward materialistic goals relatively more is associated with decreases in well-being over time. Study 2 additionally demonstrated that this association was mediated by changes in psychological need satisfaction. A fourth, experimental study showed that highly materialistic US adolescents who received an intervention that decreased materialism also experienced increases in self-esteem over the next several months, relative to a control group. Thus, well-being changes as people change their relative focus on materialistic goals.
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