Self-affirmation and mortality salience: affirming values reduces worldview defense and death-thought accessibility. Academic Article uri icon


  • To the extent that cultural worldviews provide meaning in the face of existential concerns, specifically the inevitability of death, affirming a valued aspect of one's worldview should render reminders of death less threatening. The authors report two studies in support of this view. In Study 1, mortality salience led to derogation of a worldview violator unless participants had first affirmed an important value. In Study 2, self-affirmation before a reminder of death was associated with reduced accessibility of death-related thoughts a short while thereafter. The authors propose that actively affirming one's worldview alters reactions to reminders of mortality by reducing the accessibility of death-related thoughts, not by boosting self-esteem. These studies attest to the flexible nature of psychological self-defense and to the central role of cultural worldviews in managing death-related concerns.

published proceedings

  • Pers Soc Psychol Bull

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Schmeichel, B. J., & Martens, A

citation count

  • 163

complete list of authors

  • Schmeichel, Brandon J||Martens, Andy

publication date

  • May 2005