The role of mortality awareness in hero identification

Simon McCabe, Ryan W. Carpenter, Jamie Arndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three studies examine hypotheses derived from terror management theory to investigate the relationship between mortality concerns and hero identification. Study 1 found reminders of death, followed by a distraction task and a self-prime, led to greater inclusion of heroes in the self. Study 2 found that writing about a personal hero, but not other’s heroes or acquaintances, led to lower death-thought accessibility after being reminded of mortality. Finally, Study 3 found that after death reminders, participants led to identify with a hero exemplifying traits of legacy and/or sacrifice showed lower death thought accessibility. Findings are discussed as generative for heroism research, informing a previously overlooked motivation underlying hero identification and the existential function of such identification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-726
Number of pages20
JournalSelf and Identity
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2016


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