Increases in generative concern among older adults following reminders of mortality

Molly Maxfield, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, David Weise, Spee Kosloff, Melissa Soenke, Andrew Abeyta, Jamin Blatter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


According to terror management theory, people are motivated to protect themselves from the potential for anxiety resulting from awareness of mortality. It was hypothesized that increased concern for future generations, and the symbolic immortality this produces, may be particularly important to older adults when awareness of their mortality is increased. In two studies, older and younger adults' generative concern was examined following mortality or control primes. As hypothesized, older adults' generative concern and preference for pro-social over pro-self generativity were greater following reminders of mortality, whereas neither effect was observed among younger adults. For both studies, age differences were only observed when mortality salience was heightened; older and younger adults' generative concern did not differ in control conditions. Results provide support for the hypothesis that younger and older adults differ in their responses to increased awareness of mortality and suggest that older adults respond to death reminders by adopting a more pro-social generative orientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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