ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (2): 318-335.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.00318

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


黄成利1,2, 胡超3,4()   

  1. 1杭州师范大学心理科学研究院, 杭州 311121
    2英国南安普顿大学自我与认同研究中心, 南安普顿 SO17 1BJ
    4东南大学人文学院心理学教研室, 南京 211189
  • 收稿日期:2022-01-14 发布日期:2022-11-10 出版日期:2023-02-25
  • 通讯作者: 胡超
  • 基金资助:

The terror management and sorrow management of death consciousness

HUANG Chengli1,2, HU Chao3,4()   

  1. 1Institutes of Psychological Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 311121, China
    2Centre for Research on Self and Identity, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
    3Department of Medical Humanities, School of Humanities, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China
    4Psychological Research & Education Center, School of Humanities, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China
  • Received:2022-01-14 Online:2022-11-10 Published:2023-02-25
  • Contact: HU Chao


基于悲伤情绪的功能及效应, 提出死亡意识的“悲伤管理假设”。实验1采用电生理、微表情、主观报告等方法探索死亡意识伴随的情绪变化; 实验2和实验3对比死亡意识的“悲伤管理”和“恐惧管理”, 并探索情绪的中介作用。结果发现:死亡意识诱发悲伤和恐惧(尤其是悲伤), 且死亡反思诱发更多的悲伤; 恐惧在死亡意识与外在人生目标间起中介作用; 悲伤(而非恐惧)背景音乐下, 死亡意识使个体更重视内在人生目标。上述结果为死亡意识的“悲伤管理”提供了实证依据, 表明在悲伤的情绪中加工死亡意识可能促进个体的内在成长, 这对疫情等社会灾难时期的心理救援具有启示意义。

关键词: 恐惧管理理论, 死亡反思, 情绪, 人生目标结构


Deep in our consciousness, we all know that we will die someday. The management of mortality and death-related emotions influence our behavior profoundly. Terror Management Theory (TMT) and Death Reflection (DR) theory postulate different directions to manage mortality salience (MS; i.e., reminding people of their mortality). While TMT proposes a series of external defenses to restrain the fear of mortality, DR focuses on inner growth when contemplating our mortality. On the other hand, the role of emotion in managing mortality is a major challenge: Firstly, does MS lead to changes in emotion? Secondly, if MS does influence emotion, what are the main emotions that can be induced? Thirdly, what role do emotions play when mortality becomes salient? Based on the reflective function of sadness, the present study proposed the “sorrow management assumption”, and hypothesized that MS would induce fear and sadness; death reflection would evoke more sadness, while pure mortality salience would evoke more fear. Next, we expected that fear and sadness would lead to two different modes of response to MS, i.e., “fear management” and “sorrow management”. Finally, we proposed that fear and sadness would mediate the relationship between MS and external defenses, and MS and internal growth, respectively.
The current study conducted three experiments to compare the “sorrow management” and “terror management” of MS. In Experiment 1, 82 participants were recruited to explore the emotional changes during and after MS by using a variety of emotion measurement methods (i.e., micro-expression, self-report emotion, physiological skin conductance response, and heart rate). In Experiment 2, 152 participants were recruited. Two death consciousness manipulations (mortality salience paradigm, death reflection paradigm) were used to explore the different after-effects of two death management patterns (i.e., “sorrow management” and “terror management”) on external defense and internal growth. Additionally, the mediating role of emotion (fear, sadness) was also explored. In Experiment 3, 182 participants were recruited to explore the different effects of terror and sorrow management. Sad and fearful background music was used to arouse respective emotions when conducting mortality salience manipulations.
The results of Experiment 1 showed that reminding people of their mortality led to increased sadness and fear, and the death reflection paradigm (vs. mortality salience paradigm) aroused significantly more sadness. The results of Experiment 2 did not find significant differences between the two different manipulations on the external defense (i.e., worldview defense, external life goal structure) and internal growth (i.e., internal life goal structure), but found that fear mediated the effect of MS on external defense (i.e., external life goal structure). The results of Experiment 3 did not observe a significant MS effect on the external defense (i.e., self-esteem striving, external life goal structure), but found that MS prompted the participants to attach more importance to internal growth (i.e., internal life goal structure) in sad (not fear) background music; emotion (i.e., sadness, fear) did not function as a mediator in the relationship between MS and internal life goal structure; background music (i.e., sadness, fear) functioned as a moderator in the relationship between MS and internal life goal structure.
In conclusion, these results indicated that MS did elicit sadness and fear, especially sadness, and death reflection elicited more sadness than pure mortality salience; fear played a mediating role between MS and external defense (i.e., external life goal structure); MS promoted internal growth (i.e., internal life goal structure) under sadness (not fear) background music. The current study expands the understanding of the role of emotions when reminding people’s mortality, particularly for sadness, thus it is an important innovation and addition to TMT. The present study also provides empirical evidence for “sorrow management” of mortality, which provides enlightenment for psychological rescue in epidemics and other social disasters.

Key words: Terror Management Theory, death reflection, emotion, life goal structure