The impact of death awareness on sizes of self-representational objects

Simon McCabe, III Kenneth E. Vail, Jamie Arndt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People seem to have a tendency to increase the relative size of self-representational objects. Prior research suggests that motivational factors may fuel that tendency, so the present research built from terror management theory to examine whether existential motivations – engendered by concerns about death – may have similar implications for self-relevant size biases. Specifically, across two studies (total N = 288), we hypothesized that reminders of death would lead participants to inflate the size of self-representational objects. Both studies suggested that relative to reminders of pain, mortality salience led participants to construct larger clay sculptures of themselves (vs. others; Study 1) and a larger ostensible video game avatar for the self (vs. others; Study 2).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-188
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2017


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