CHFA | Psychology Department Showcase: Projects In-Process

Title

The Stimulating Effects of a Death Song on Mortality Salience

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

General Experimental Psychology

2nd Student Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

2nd Student Major

General Experimental Psychology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Jana Hackathorn, PhD.

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Problem

The theory of terror management posits that the cognitive abilities of humans have led to the conscious awareness that death is unavoidable; and that this awareness then creates intense anxiety or terror which must be constantly managed (Greenberg & Arndt, 2012). TMT explains how people cope with terror by strengthening the psychological structures that are embedded in their faith in cultural worldviews and self-esteem. The present study examined whether a song about death can lead to an increase in death anxiety and general anxiety, especially during a global pandemic that may already prime participants with death anxiety. Using TMT as a framework, we expect that there will be a significant difference between trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety within the baseline measure and that there will be significant differences between baseline and posttest measures, more specifically, we expect there to be an increase in death anxiety within the experimental group.

Procedure

Data was collected from a sample of 82 participants who ranged in age from 18 to 41 (M = 18.92, SD = 2.71), were mostly female (86.7%), and Caucasian (85.5%). More than one-third of the sample attended religious services almost every week or every week (36%). After providing consent, respondents completed a demographic questionnaire and an online survey that measured trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety. Internal consistency scores were adequate and ranged from α = .73 to α = .92.

Results

Preliminary analyses for the baseline measure using the Friedman test indicated that there was a statistically significant difference in the mean ranks of anxiety for the three different assessments examined, χ2(2) = 135.20, p < .001. Planned pairwise comparisons with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted with a Bonferroni adjustment of α = .017. There were significant differences between state and trait anxiety (Z = -3.83, p < .001), state and death anxiety (Z = -8.06, p < .001), and trait and death anxiety (Z = -8.056, p < .001).

Conclusion

This study examined the difference between the mean ranks of trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety within the baseline measure of our research on whether a song about death can stimulate mortality salience. The results allow the researchers to establish a foundation to compare the findings of the experimental portion of the study, in which data collection is currently still ongoing. Additional research questions and hypotheses will be tested in the future.

Location

Waterfield Gallery

Start Date

November 2021

End Date

November 2021

Fall Scholars Week 2021 Event

Psychology: Projects In-Progress

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Nov 16th, 9:30 AM Nov 16th, 12:30 PM

The Stimulating Effects of a Death Song on Mortality Salience

Waterfield Gallery

Problem

The theory of terror management posits that the cognitive abilities of humans have led to the conscious awareness that death is unavoidable; and that this awareness then creates intense anxiety or terror which must be constantly managed (Greenberg & Arndt, 2012). TMT explains how people cope with terror by strengthening the psychological structures that are embedded in their faith in cultural worldviews and self-esteem. The present study examined whether a song about death can lead to an increase in death anxiety and general anxiety, especially during a global pandemic that may already prime participants with death anxiety. Using TMT as a framework, we expect that there will be a significant difference between trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety within the baseline measure and that there will be significant differences between baseline and posttest measures, more specifically, we expect there to be an increase in death anxiety within the experimental group.

Procedure

Data was collected from a sample of 82 participants who ranged in age from 18 to 41 (M = 18.92, SD = 2.71), were mostly female (86.7%), and Caucasian (85.5%). More than one-third of the sample attended religious services almost every week or every week (36%). After providing consent, respondents completed a demographic questionnaire and an online survey that measured trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety. Internal consistency scores were adequate and ranged from α = .73 to α = .92.

Results

Preliminary analyses for the baseline measure using the Friedman test indicated that there was a statistically significant difference in the mean ranks of anxiety for the three different assessments examined, χ2(2) = 135.20, p < .001. Planned pairwise comparisons with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were conducted with a Bonferroni adjustment of α = .017. There were significant differences between state and trait anxiety (Z = -3.83, p < .001), state and death anxiety (Z = -8.06, p < .001), and trait and death anxiety (Z = -8.056, p < .001).

Conclusion

This study examined the difference between the mean ranks of trait anxiety, state anxiety, and death anxiety within the baseline measure of our research on whether a song about death can stimulate mortality salience. The results allow the researchers to establish a foundation to compare the findings of the experimental portion of the study, in which data collection is currently still ongoing. Additional research questions and hypotheses will be tested in the future.