Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 926–931 | Cite as

Mortality salience increases personal optimism among individuals higher in trait self-control

  • Nicholas J. Kelley
  • Brandon J. Schmeichel
Original Paper


Reminders of personal mortality may tune attention toward positive information. Insofar as attending to positive things in life helps individuals to cope with awareness of death, individuals with higher trait self-control may be particularly adept at positive tuning under mortality salience. To test this hypothesis, the current study had participants complete a measure of trait self-control, contemplate their mortality or a control topic, and then complete a measure of personal optimism. Mortality salience increased personal optimism, but only among participants higher in trait self-control. Taken together with past research the current results suggest that individuals higher in trait self-control draw upon diverse sources of positivity under mortality salience, which may help explain why they enjoy more positive outcomes in life.


Terror management theory Mortality salience Self-control Optimism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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