Contrasting the effects of mortality salience and future time limitation on goal prioritization in older and younger adults

Helene H. FUNG, Steven Tsun-Wai CHU, Da JIANG, Amber Xuqian CHEN, Carson Chuen NG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

Objectives: This study aims at contrasting the effects of limited future time perspective and mortality salience on goal prioritization across adulthood. Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) argues that people increasingly prioritize emotionally meaningful goals when they perceive future time as more limited. Terror management theory (TMT) suggests that mortality salience (i.e. the awareness of one’s mortality) drives people to prioritize the goal of perpetuating own existence through affirming cultural worldview.
Method: In this study, participants (N = 438) were randomly assigned to 6 conditions that primed (1) limited future time, (2) mortality salience, (3) death reflection, (4) both limited future time and mortality salience, (5) both limited future time and death reflection, or (6) none.
Results: Results showed that older adults allocated significantly more resources to emotionally close recipients who supported their cultural worldviews in conditions involving future time limitation and death reflection. They also allocated less resources to emotionally not close recipients who did not support their cultural worldviews in conditions involving future time limitation. Younger adults did not show these differences. Nor did mortality salience have any effect.
Discussion: These results suggest that future time perspective and death reflection shift age-related goals more than mortality salience. Copyright © 2019 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Early online date19 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2019

Citation

Fung, H. H., Chu, S. T.-W., Jiang, D., Chen, A. X., & Ng, C. C. (2019). Contrasting the effects of mortality salience and future time limitation on goal prioritization in older and younger adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbz133

Keywords

  • Mortality salience
  • Future time perspective
  • Death reflection
  • Age differences
  • Decision making

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