From Terror to Joy

  title={From Terror to Joy},
  author={C. Nathan DeWall and Roy F. Baumeister},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  pages={984 - 990}
Reminders of death tend to produce strong cognitive and behavioral responses, but little or no emotional response. In three experiments, mortality salience produced an automatic coping response that involved tuning to positive emotional information. Subjects showed increased accessibility of positive emotional information (Experiments 1 and 3) and gave more weight to positive emotion in their judgments of word similarity (Experiment 2) after contemplating death than after thinking about dental… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Emotional responses to mortality salience: Behavioral and ERPs evidence

Electrophysiological evidence for the proximal defense hypothesis of terror management theory is provided, indicating that the early stages after mortality salience will induce fear and anxiety, but soon these negative emotions are suppressed and are at a lower level of accessibility.

When death is not a problem: Regulating implicit negative affect under mortality salience.

It is assumed that this implicit affective reaction towards death depends on people's ability to self-regulate negative affect as assessed by the personality dimension of action versus state orientation, and action-oriented participants judged artificial words to express less negative affect under mortality salience compared to control conditions.

Joking in the face of death: A terror management approach to humor production

Abstract Terror management theory has spawned a body of experimental research documenting a multitude of defensive responses to mortality salience manipulations (e.g., rigid adherence to dominant

The Numbing Effect of Mortality Salience in Consumer Settings

Nationwide Insurance and Johnnie Walker Scotch aired advertisements that encouraged people to contemplate death.What are the immediate emotional and perceptual outcomes of such advertisements? With

More than words: Contemplating death enhances positive emotional word use

More than words : Contemplating death enhances positive emotional word use q

Four experiments, three cross-sectional and one longitudinal, tested the hypothesis that contemplating one’s own death produces a shift toward the use of positive emotion words. Participants who

Automatic emotion regulation after social exclusion: tuning to positivity.

The results strongly and consistently indicated that acute social exclusion increased nonconscious positive affect and an automatic emotion regulation process in which positive emotions become highly accessible, which relates to positive mental health.

Mortality salience reduces attentional bias for fear-relevant animals

This research investigated the influence of reminders of mortality on biased attention for fear-relevant animals across 2 studies. In each study, participants completed a baseline dot-probe test of

Existential neuroscience: neurophysiological correlates of proximal defenses against death-related thoughts.

A plausible neurophysiological marker of proximal defenses in the form of an increased LPP to death-related words was identified, which is thought to reflect an increased allocation of attention toward, and processing of, motivationally relevant stimuli.



Suppression, accessibility of death-related thoughts, and cultural worldview defense: exploring the psychodynamics of terror management.

Study 3 demonstrated that worldview defense in response to MS reduces the delayed increase in death accessibility, suggesting that a person's initial response to conscious thoughts of mortality is to actively suppress death thoughts.

From the grave to the cradle: evidence that mortality salience engenders a desire for offspring.

The findings suggest that a desire for offspring can function as a terror management defense mechanism.

Terror management and tolerance: does mortality salience always intensify negative reactions to others who threaten one's worldview?

Mortality salience did not lead to negative reactions to the critic when the value of tolerance was highly accessible and, under mortality-salient or control conditions, Ss evaluated a target person who criticized the United States.

A dual-process model of defense against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts: an extension of terror management theory.

Proximal defenses, which entail suppressing death-related thoughts or pushing the problem of death into the distant future by denying one's vulnerability, are rational, threat-focused, and activated when thoughts of death are in current focal attention.

Ambivalence Toward the Body: Death, Neuroticism, and the Flight From Physical Sensation

The authors suggest that ambivalent reactions to the human body are partially rooted in the association of the physical body with inescapable death and that individuals high in neuroticism are particularly vulnerable to such difficulties.

Asymmetrical effects of positive and negative events: the mobilization-minimization hypothesis.

It is concluded that no single theoretical mechanism can explain the mobilization-minimization pattern, but that a family of integrated process models, encompassing different classes of responses, may account for this pattern of parallel but disparately caused effects.

Cognitive Mediation of Positive Affect in Persuasion

This study explored the impact of positive mood on the cognitive processes mediating attitude change in response to a persuasive communication. Subjects in either a good mood or a neutral mood were

Immune neglect: a source of durability bias in affective forecasting.

The present experiments suggest that people neglect the psychological immune system when making affective forecasts.

Testing alternative explanations for mortality salience effects: Terror management, value accessibility, or worrisome thoughts?

Previous research has shown that reminding subjects of their mortality encourages negative reactions to others whose behaviour or attitudes deviate from the cultural worldview (e.g. Greenberg,

Stereotypes and terror management: evidence that mortality salience enhances stereotypic thinking and preferences.

Mortality salience showed that, among participants high in need for closure, mortality salience led to decreased liking for a stereotype-inconsistent gay man, and this pattern replicated with evaluations of stereotype-confirming or stereotype-disconfirming men and women.