Age Differences in the Effects of Mortality Salience on the Correspondence Bias

Molly Maxfield, Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg, Michael N. Bultmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


According to terror management theory, awareness of death affects diverse aspects of human thought and behavior. Studies have shown that older and younger adults differ in how they respond to reminders of their mortality. The present study investigated one hypothesized explanation for these findings: Age-related differences in the tendency to make correspondent inferences. The correspondence bias was assessed in younger and older samples after death-related, negative, or neutral primes. Younger adults displayed increased correspondent inferences following mortality primes, whereas older adults' inferences were not affected by the reminder of death. As in prior research, age differences were evident in control conditions; however, age differences were eliminated in the death condition. Results support the existence of age-related differences in responses to mortality, with only younger adults displaying increased reliance on simplistic information structuring after a death reminder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-342
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • age
  • correspondence bias
  • mortality salience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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