Autonomy, Meaning, and the Mediating Role of Symbolic Immortality

Dylan E. Horner, Alex R. Sielaff, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The present work built on self-determination theory, terror management theory, and related existential and humanistic perspectives to test the mediating role of symbolic immortality in the association between autonomy and meaning in life. In two samples (Sample 1, n = 1,414; Sample 2, n = 882), autonomy was significantly associated with symbolic immortality, which in turn was significantly associated with meaning in life. Moreover, in both samples, multiple regression analyses supported the view that autonomy is a unique and significant predictor of symbolic immortality, and the proposed indirect effect remained significant after controlling for self-esteem. These results extend prior work addressing autonomy and meaning in life and point to interesting empirical directions for further understanding the existential role of autonomy in managing death-related concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • autonomy
  • meaning in life
  • self-determination
  • symbolic immortality
  • terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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