The thought of one’s own death induces anxiety and threatens self-esteem. According to Terror Management Theory (TMT), to reduce this existential threat individuals (1) adhere more strongly to their cultural worldview and (2) embrace behaviors aimed at boosting self-esteem. Previous psychological studies of TMT do not generally rely on incentive-compatible mechanisms. However, economic incentives are strong drivers of individuals’ behavior and need to be studied along with intrinsic motivations. Here, we combined—for the first time—a real effort task with psychological priming techniques. Crucially, we adopted a “flat-wage” scheme to investigate whether individuals primed with death-related thoughts, i.e., a Mortality Salience (MS) induction, increase their individual productivity more than individuals primed with a control topic (Music salience induction). We also investigated whether the effect of MS on performance is mainly driven by the quest for self-esteem vs. status-seeking, providing either private or public feedback on performance. Participants generally showed lower performance levels in the MS compared to the control condition. Public feedback bolstered performance, but its effect was milder under MS. These results suggest that in the absence of economic incentives to perform, individuals do not generally increase effort and productivity; they rather adhere more tightly to cultural (materialistic) worldviews, avoiding effort that is not compensated. The effect of MS, indeed, was strongly influenced by individual materialism

Does death make us all equal? Materialism and status-seeking under Mortality Salience

Ciaramelli E;Orsini R
2019

Abstract

The thought of one’s own death induces anxiety and threatens self-esteem. According to Terror Management Theory (TMT), to reduce this existential threat individuals (1) adhere more strongly to their cultural worldview and (2) embrace behaviors aimed at boosting self-esteem. Previous psychological studies of TMT do not generally rely on incentive-compatible mechanisms. However, economic incentives are strong drivers of individuals’ behavior and need to be studied along with intrinsic motivations. Here, we combined—for the first time—a real effort task with psychological priming techniques. Crucially, we adopted a “flat-wage” scheme to investigate whether individuals primed with death-related thoughts, i.e., a Mortality Salience (MS) induction, increase their individual productivity more than individuals primed with a control topic (Music salience induction). We also investigated whether the effect of MS on performance is mainly driven by the quest for self-esteem vs. status-seeking, providing either private or public feedback on performance. Participants generally showed lower performance levels in the MS compared to the control condition. Public feedback bolstered performance, but its effect was milder under MS. These results suggest that in the absence of economic incentives to perform, individuals do not generally increase effort and productivity; they rather adhere more tightly to cultural (materialistic) worldviews, avoiding effort that is not compensated. The effect of MS, indeed, was strongly influenced by individual materialism
Ciaramelli E, Giannetti C, Orsini R
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/681704
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