Mortality Salience and Uncertainty Threat among Younger vs. Older Adults
GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry
How do older versus younger individuals respond differently to existential threats? Although age brings emotional benefits that promote greater meaningfulness, it remains unclear how age influences reminders of death. Both terror management theory (TMT) and alternative frameworks (uncertainty management model - UMM, the meaning-making model - MMM) posit that individuals respond defensively to threat, but most of such studies focused on college-aged populations. Several TMT studies across the lifespan reached equivocal findings, and to our knowledge, no experiments have tested UMM/MMM across age groups. We tested how existential threats (i.e., mortality, uncertainty) predict defensive psychological distancing in younger/older adults. We found that older, but not younger, adults showed less defensiveness after existential threat.
aging, existential threat, mortality, psychological distancing, uncertainty
Christine Ma-Kellams, Ryan Harrison, and My Ngoc Nguyen. "Mortality Salience and Uncertainty Threat among Younger vs. Older Adults" GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry (2021): 155-163. https://doi.org/10.1024/1662-9647/a000246