Terror management and meaning: Evidence that the opportunity to defend the worldview in response to mortality salience increases the meaningfulness of life in the mildly depressed.
AuthorSimon, Linda Ann
Committee ChairGreenberg, Jeff
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPrevious terror management research has shown that mildly depressed subjects show a greater increase in worldview defense in response to reminders of their mortality than do nondepressed subjects. Because the function of the cultural worldview is to provide a meaningful conception of life, it was hypothesized that mildly depressed subjects who defend their worldview in response to mortality salience would increase their perception that the world is a meaningful place. To test this hypothesis, mildly depressed and nondepressed subjects contemplated their own mortality or a neutral topic and then evaluated two targets, one who supported and one who threatened aspects of their worldview. The formats of these evaluations were constructed such that some subjects could defend their worldview and others could not. Following these treatments, all subjects completed a scale designed to assess the perception of meaning in life, the Kunzendorf No-meaning Scale. As predicted, mildly depressed subjects who had the opportunity to defend their worldview in response to mortality salience reported greater meaning in life than mildly depressed subjects who did not have the opportunity to defend their worldview, or mildly depressed subjects not exposed to mortality salience. Implications for understanding and treating depression are briefly discussed.