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Mortality salience biases attention to positive versus negative images among individuals higher in trait self-control

Mortality salience biases attention to positive versus negative images among individuals higher in trait self-control
Mortality salience biases attention to positive versus negative images among individuals higher in trait self-control
Death is inevitable. One way people cope with awareness of death is to focus on the positive things in life. Consistent with this idea, reminders of personal mortality have been found to increase optimism and tune attention towards positive information. The current research tested the hypothesis that persons higher in trait self-control are especially likely to attend to positive (versus negative) stimuli under mortality salience (MS). Participants completed a measure of trait self-control, contemplated their own mortality or a control topic, and then viewed positive and negative affective images while their gaze patterns were recorded. MS increased the attention to positive (versus negative) images among participants higher in trait self-control, whereas those lower in trait self-control exhibited a non-significant trend in the opposite direction. Thus, participants higher in trait self-control showed a positivity bias after contemplating death, which may help explain why they tend to enjoy more positive outcomes in life.
0269-9931
550-559
Kelley, Nicholas
445e767b-ad9f-44f2-b2c6-d981482bb90b
Tang, David
c1f39cad-a682-4b04-871d-9c8fd2e10504
Schmeichel, Brandon
c54e5895-85a2-4e4b-be96-93caa2b7d620
Kelley, Nicholas
445e767b-ad9f-44f2-b2c6-d981482bb90b
Tang, David
c1f39cad-a682-4b04-871d-9c8fd2e10504
Schmeichel, Brandon
c54e5895-85a2-4e4b-be96-93caa2b7d620

Kelley, Nicholas, Tang, David and Schmeichel, Brandon (2014) Mortality salience biases attention to positive versus negative images among individuals higher in trait self-control. Cognition and Emotion, 28 (3), 550-559. (doi:10.1080/02699931.2013.840269).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Death is inevitable. One way people cope with awareness of death is to focus on the positive things in life. Consistent with this idea, reminders of personal mortality have been found to increase optimism and tune attention towards positive information. The current research tested the hypothesis that persons higher in trait self-control are especially likely to attend to positive (versus negative) stimuli under mortality salience (MS). Participants completed a measure of trait self-control, contemplated their own mortality or a control topic, and then viewed positive and negative affective images while their gaze patterns were recorded. MS increased the attention to positive (versus negative) images among participants higher in trait self-control, whereas those lower in trait self-control exhibited a non-significant trend in the opposite direction. Thus, participants higher in trait self-control showed a positivity bias after contemplating death, which may help explain why they tend to enjoy more positive outcomes in life.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 29 August 2013
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 October 2013
Published date: 2014

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432971
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432971
ISSN: 0269-9931
PURE UUID: 5d9e1ffa-d8e1-4a83-b128-e16344cfe902

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Date deposited: 05 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 05 Aug 2019 16:30

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Contributors

Author: Nicholas Kelley
Author: David Tang
Author: Brandon Schmeichel

University divisions

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