This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

How thinking about death can lead to a good life

Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies. Even non-conscious thinking about death – say walking by a cemetery – could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.

Past research suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous, fueling everything from prejudice and greed to violence. Such studies related to terror management theory (TMT), which posits that we uphold certain cultural beliefs to manage our feelings of mortality, have rarely explored the potential benefits of death awareness.

"This tendency for TMT research to primarily deal with negative attitudes and harmful behaviors has become so deeply entrenched in our field that some have recently suggested that death awareness is simply a bleak force of social destruction," says Kenneth Vail of the University of Missouri, lead author of the new study in the online edition of Personality and Social Psychology Review this month. "There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviors that can minimize harm to oneself and others, and can promote well-being."

Read more

TAGGED: MEDICINE, PSYCHOLOGY


RELATED CONTENT

Neurons Mirror the Diametric Mind

Christopher Badcock, Ph.D -... 3 Comments

Neurons Mirror the Diametric Mind

Schizophrenics amplify neuronal mirroring, autistics reduce it

Civility in American Politics: How to...

Jonathan Haidt - Miller Center,... 10 Comments

“The Hidden Brain”: Behind your secret...

Thomas Rogers - Salon 19 Comments

“The Hidden Brain”: Behind your secret racism

Your Brain on Fiction

Annie Murphy Paul - New York Times 26 Comments

New support for the value of fiction is arriving from an unexpected quarter: neuroscience.

Earworms: Why songs get stuck in our...

Rhitu Chatterjee - BBC News Magazine 18 Comments


Earworms: Why songs get stuck in our heads

Beholding beauty: How it's been studied

Elizabeth Landau - CNN 45 Comments


Beholding beauty: How it's been studied

MORE

MORE BY -

Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

Missionaries of Hate

- - Top Documentary Films Comments

Documentary about ongoing events in Uganda, where many question whether the growing influence of American religious groups has led to a movement to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death.

Scientists Discover Previously Unknown...

- - URMC Comments

Newer Imaging Technique Brings ‘Glymphatic System’ to Light

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The...

- - human rights first Comments

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamation of Religions”

Atheists On Religion, Science, And...

- - YouTube - townsquare Comments

Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, Huffingtonpost.com) leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').

WALK DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE ~ 25 - 26...

- - Ancestors Trail Walk Comments

WALK DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE ~ 26 AUGUST 2012 - event begins on Saturday 25 August

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment