The psychological effects of contemplating one’s death have received much empirical attention, but the impact of thinking about one’s conception—the other temporal endpoint of physical existence—has not. Across three experiments, reflecting on conception or death (vs. a neutral topic) led to increased framing of sexual reproduction as miraculous and sacred, intensified belief in discarnate immortality, and a greater desire to experience a discarnate state that offered no direct assurance of literal immortality. Thinking about death uniquely evoked greater anxiety as well as greater desire for an experience that offered assurance of literal immortality, congruent with the tenets of terror management theory. Nevertheless, the parallel effects evoked by reflecting on conception and death also suggest that both amplify the aversive salience of the limitations inherent to physical existence, such that people respond by seeking experiences and adjusting attitudes/beliefs to divert attention from the physical body.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||International Journal for the Psychology of Religion|
|Early online date||16 Mar 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Apr 2016|