Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive

Amelia Goranson, Ryan S. Ritter, Adam Waytz, Michael I. Norton, Kurt Gray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In people’s imagination, dying seems dreadful; however, these perceptions may not reflect reality. In two studies, we compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Study 1 revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of nonpatients—and also that the patients’ blog posts became more positive as death neared. Study 2 revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of noninmates—and also that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Together, these results suggest that the experience of dying—even because of terminal illness or execution—may be more pleasant than one imagines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-999
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Volume28
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Fingerprint

Blogging
Poetry
Imagination
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Neoplasms

Keywords

  • LIWC
  • affective forecasting
  • death
  • language
  • open materials
  • positivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Goranson, A., Ritter, R. S., Waytz, A., Norton, M. I., & Gray, K. (2017). Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive. Psychological Science, 28(7), 988-999. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617701186
Goranson, Amelia ; Ritter, Ryan S. ; Waytz, Adam ; Norton, Michael I. ; Gray, Kurt. / Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive. In: Psychological Science. 2017 ; Vol. 28, No. 7. pp. 988-999.
@article{097edb72fd5c43c58825577c0ecb8de0,
title = "Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive",
abstract = "In people’s imagination, dying seems dreadful; however, these perceptions may not reflect reality. In two studies, we compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Study 1 revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of nonpatients—and also that the patients’ blog posts became more positive as death neared. Study 2 revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of noninmates—and also that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Together, these results suggest that the experience of dying—even because of terminal illness or execution—may be more pleasant than one imagines.",
keywords = "LIWC, affective forecasting, death, language, open materials, positivity",
author = "Amelia Goranson and Ritter, {Ryan S.} and Adam Waytz and Norton, {Michael I.} and Kurt Gray",
year = "2017",
month = "7",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0956797617701186",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "28",
pages = "988--999",
journal = "Psychological Science",
issn = "0956-7976",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "7",

}

Goranson, A, Ritter, RS, Waytz, A, Norton, MI & Gray, K 2017, 'Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive', Psychological Science, vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 988-999. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617701186

Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive. / Goranson, Amelia; Ritter, Ryan S.; Waytz, Adam; Norton, Michael I.; Gray, Kurt.

In: Psychological Science, Vol. 28, No. 7, 01.07.2017, p. 988-999.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive

AU - Goranson, Amelia

AU - Ritter, Ryan S.

AU - Waytz, Adam

AU - Norton, Michael I.

AU - Gray, Kurt

PY - 2017/7/1

Y1 - 2017/7/1

N2 - In people’s imagination, dying seems dreadful; however, these perceptions may not reflect reality. In two studies, we compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Study 1 revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of nonpatients—and also that the patients’ blog posts became more positive as death neared. Study 2 revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of noninmates—and also that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Together, these results suggest that the experience of dying—even because of terminal illness or execution—may be more pleasant than one imagines.

AB - In people’s imagination, dying seems dreadful; however, these perceptions may not reflect reality. In two studies, we compared the affective experience of people facing imminent death with that of people imagining imminent death. Study 1 revealed that blog posts of near-death patients with cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were more positive and less negative than the simulated blog posts of nonpatients—and also that the patients’ blog posts became more positive as death neared. Study 2 revealed that the last words of death-row inmates were more positive and less negative than the simulated last words of noninmates—and also that these last words were less negative than poetry written by death-row inmates. Together, these results suggest that the experience of dying—even because of terminal illness or execution—may be more pleasant than one imagines.

KW - LIWC

KW - affective forecasting

KW - death

KW - language

KW - open materials

KW - positivity

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85023750005&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85023750005&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0956797617701186

DO - 10.1177/0956797617701186

M3 - Article

VL - 28

SP - 988

EP - 999

JO - Psychological Science

JF - Psychological Science

SN - 0956-7976

IS - 7

ER -

Goranson A, Ritter RS, Waytz A, Norton MI, Gray K. Dying Is Unexpectedly Positive. Psychological Science. 2017 Jul 1;28(7):988-999. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617701186