Prosocial Attitudes toward Money from Terror Management Perspective: Death Transcendence through Spirituality

Mengchen Dong, Jan Willem Van Prooijen, Song Wu, Yanjun Zhang, Shenghua Jin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Based on Terror Management Theory (TMT), we suggest that spirituality and prosocial attitudes toward money have a similar defensive function in resisting existential anxiety. In mortality salient (MS) situations, both spirituality and prosocial money attitudes afford symbolic immortality by self-transcendent connections. In four studies, we found that activating death awareness weakened people’s subjective love of money (Study 1) and predicted increased spending willingness on prosocial rather than proself goals (Studies 2, 3, and 4). More importantly, MS effects on money attitudes were smaller when people’s trait spirituality was high (vs. low; Studies 1, 2, 3) and when people were primed to experience spirituality (vs. happiness control condition; Study 4). For low spirituality people, the association between MS and prosocial spending also depended on the capacity of money spending to contribute positively to one’s feelings of self-worth (Study 3). Theoretical implications and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalThe International Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Volume29
Issue number1
Early online date20 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019

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