Existential isolation and death thought accessibility

Peter J. Helm, Uri Lifshin, Ronald Chau, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Three studies examined how existential isolation (EI) relates to death-thought accessibility (DTA). Drawing upon the state-trait EI model and terror management theory, we posited EI would be associated with greater DTA. Studies 1a and 1b found trait EI to be correlated with baseline DTA. Evidence for mediation by ingroup identity was mixed. Studies 2 and 3 (a preregistered replication of Study 2) assessed whether priming EI would increase DTA relative to control primes. Study 2 found support for our hypothesis, but Study 3 failed to replicate, leaving open the question about whether EI plays a causal role in higher DTA. We discuss the potential value of EI for understanding how people manage concerns about death and relate to ingroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103845
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Death-thought accessibility
  • Existential isolation
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Existential isolation and death thought accessibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this