The Psychological Record

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 731–742 | Cite as

Life is Good, But Death Ain’t Bad Either: Counter-Intuitive Implicit Biases to Death in a Normative Population

  • Ian HusseyEmail author
  • Tarah Daly
  • Dermot Barnes-Holmes
Original Article


The current study explored implicit attitudes to life and death in a student population using both the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP). The IAT was similar to one used in previously published researched in the context of the prospective prediction of suicide and self-harm. Two IRAPs were employed, one that assessed relational responses specific to death and life with respect to self, and a second that assessed relational responses specific to evaluations of death and life. The IAT replicated previous results found in normative populations. The IRAPs indicated “prolife” biases, as expected. However, they also failed to demonstrate the presence of strong “antideath” biases, and in one case a specific “death–positive” bias was found. The results observed on the explicit measures did not readily explain the absent or “prodeath” effects observed on the IRAPs. Indeed, participants reported a normative level of anxiety and fear of death. Implications for the study of implicit attitudes to death using the IRAP are considered.


Implicit relational assessment procedure Relational frame theory Death 


Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National University of IrelandDublinIreland
  2. 2.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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