The Impact of Mortality Awareness on Meaning in Life Among Christians and Atheists
Religion, Brain and Behavior
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Research derived from terror management theory suggests that reliance on a terror-managing set of beliefs when reminded of death can influence one’s perception of meaning in life. The present research builds on prior work suggesting that religious concepts help to manage the awareness of death, and expands on that work to explore the challenges of religious and atheistic terror management. It was hypothesized that religious participants would be able to sustain perceived meaning in life when reminded of death, but that atheists would be vulnerable to a reduction in meaning when reminded of death. To test that idea, Christians and atheists were first reminded of either mortality or a control topic, and then asked to rate how strongly they felt life was meaningful. Results indicated that ratings of meaning in life were lower in the mortality salience condition, relative to the control condition, among the atheists but not among the Christians. Implications regarding religious and non-religious terror management strategies are discussed.
Vail, Kenneth E. and Soenke, Melissa, "The Impact of Mortality Awareness on Meaning in Life Among Christians and Atheists" (2018). Psychology Faculty Publications. 54.