Mortality salience increases adherence to salient norms and values

Matthew T. Gailliot, Tyler F. Stillman, Brandon J. Schmeichel, Jon K. Maner, E. Ashby Plant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Four studies indicate that mortality salience increases adherence to social norms and values, but only when cultural norms and values are salient. In Study 1, mortality salience coupled with a reminder about cultural values of egalitarianism reduced prejudice toward Blacks among non-Black participants. In Studies 2 through 4, a mortality salience induction (e.g., walking through a cemetery) increased self-reported and actual helping behavior only when the cultural value of helping was salient. These results suggest that people may adhere to norms and values so as to manage awareness of death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1003
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Helping
  • Mortality salience
  • Prejudice
  • Social norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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