When being far away is good: Exploring how mortality salience, regulatory mode, and goal progress affect judgments of meaning in life Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Research indicates that death-relevant thoughts (mortality salience) have a nuanced effect on judgments of life's meaningfulness. Thoughts of death diminish meaning in life only among people who lack or do not readily engage psychological structures that confer meaning. Building on this past research, the current research examined how an important source of meaning, long-term goal progress, affects the ways that death-relevant cognitions impact judgments of life's meaning. In Study 1 (N = 118), mortality salience decreased perceptions of meaning in life only among participants who were induced to feel closer to (vs. farther from) completing a long-term goal. Study 2 (N = 259) extended these findings by demonstrating the moderating influence of individual differences in locomotion. Mortality salience again decreased perceptions of meaning in life among participants who felt closer to accomplishing a long-term goal, but it only did so among people who do not quickly adopt new goals to pursue (i.e., those low in locomotion). The implications of these findings for better understanding how people maintain meaning in the face of existential concerns and how aspects of goal pursuit affect these processes are discussed.

altmetric score

  • 7.33

author list (cited authors)

  • Vess, M., Rogers, R., Routledge, C., & Hicks, J. A.

citation count

  • 17

publication date

  • July 2016