Work, love, and death-thought accessibility: A terror management investigation

Simon McCabe, Michael Daly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Terror management theory suggests that following culturally derived scripts for valued behaviour protects people from death concerns, and conversely, not meeting standards for cultural value can weaken this protection, heightening mortality concerns. Using this conceptual framework, we examine (1) how considerations of loss of employment, a source of cultural value for many, relates to the accessibility of death-related cognition, and (2) the moderating role of job market health, and (3) involvement in close relationships. Study 1 found that writing about being unemployed (vs. a control topic) led to greater mortality-related cognition. Study 2 found that considering unemployment heightened death cognition, but only when participants were led to perceive the job market as unhealthy. Finally, Study 3 found that considering unemployment led to greater death cognition, but not for those involved in a close relationship. Findings offer insight into a previously overlooked consequence of unemployment, and factors that may serve a protective function.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018


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