Self-determined immortality: Testing the role of autonomy in promoting perceptions of symbolic immortality and well-being

Dylan E. Horner, Alex Sielaff, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This pre-registered work was designed to replicate and extend previous research finding that autonomy is associated with greater extent of belief in symbolic immortality (feeling that some aspect of an individual will endure and/or be remembered long after death). Study 1 (n = 1185) replicated this prior work, finding that self-reported autonomy predicted extent of belief in symbolic immortality, which mediated the relationship between autonomy and meaning in life. Study 2 (n = 117) provided an experimental extension of Study 1, finding that reading about an individual with an autonomous (vs. controlled) life increased perceptions of that individual’s symbolic immortality, which mediated the relationship between reading about the autonomous life and perceptions of the individual’s satisfaction with life. Study 3 (n = 175) replicated the results of Study 2 and also showed that the extent to which people viewed the target individual as feeling autonomous predicted perceptions of that individual’s symbolic immortality even after controlling for perceived self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-446
Number of pages18
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Meaning in life
  • Satisfaction with life
  • Symbolic immortality
  • Terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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