Does awareness of death strengthen awareness of self? The effects of existential threat on self-focus
Drawing on Kelly's (1955) personal construct theory, which suggests that human constructs typically contain their opposites. This study proposed that people facing death threat might be prompted to concern their existence, therefore pay more attentions on themselves. Two studies were conducted to explore the effects of death threat on self-focus. Study one analyzed data of six mortality salience experiments by using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis program. Study two was a case study analyzing a cancer patient’s writings. Both studies found that people use more first-person singular pronouns when reminded of their mortality. The results indicated that death threat increases self-focus.
KeywordsLIWC Self-focus Self awareness Death anxiety
This study was funded by Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (grant number103–2410-H-130 -010 -).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Chih-Long Yen declares that he has no conflict of interest. Chung-Ping Cheng declares that he has no conflict of interest. Chin-Lan Huang declares that she has no conflict of interest. Yi-Cheng Lin declares that he has no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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