Toward understanding the fame game: The effect of mortality salience on the appeal of fame

Jeff Greenberg, Spee Kosloff, Sheldon Solomon, Florette Cohen, Mark Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Although the appeal of fame in society seems to be increasing, experimental research has yet to examine the motivations that may underlie this apparent appeal. As a first step toward doing so, we conducted three studies to assess whether concerns with mortality play a role in these phenomena. Based on terror management theory and research, we hypothesized that reminders of death would increase people's desire for fame and admiration of celebrities. In Study 1, mortality salience led participants to report greater desire for fame. In Study 2, mortality salience produced greater interest in having a star in the galaxy named after oneself. In Study 3, mortality salience increased liking for abstract art when it was attributed to a celebrity. These findings suggest that the appeal of fame is based in part on the desire for symbolic continuance beyond death. Discussion focused on the implications of these findings and remaining issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Celebrity
  • Fame
  • Symbolic immortality
  • Terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Toward understanding the fame game: The effect of mortality salience on the appeal of fame'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this