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Title:Perceiving the World in Sacred Terms: Its Buffering Function Against Death Anxiety
Author(s):Kesebir, Pelin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chiu, Chi-Yue
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:The project tests the hypothesis that the tendency to perceive the secular world in sacred terms functions as a buffer against death anxiety and the possibly destructive effects of death anxiety, such as materialism. The sacred is associated with the qualities of transcendence (perception of a larger and sublime reality beyond appearances) and ultimacy (perception of utmost significance and value), which can render death thoughts less accessible, and/or less threatening. First, a measure of Sacredness Perception is developed to capture the extent to which individuals see sacredness in the seemingly secular aspects of life. Study 1 showed that after being reminded of their mortality, individuals who score high in Sacredness Perception report lower negative affect. Study 2 revealed that after being primed with mortality thoughts, individuals high in Sacredness Perception report lower death-thought accessibility. In Study 3, participants with high Sacredness Perception levels exhibited less materialistic tendencies after being reminded of their mortality. Study 4 manipulated Sacredness Perception, and found that an experimentally heightened sense of Sacredness Perception following reminders of mortality leads to lowered materialism compared to a control condition. Overall, the research program demonstrated that perceptions of sacredness, independent of a religious context, help individuals to manage their existential anxiety and deal with the potentially toxic byproducts of existential anxiety such as materialism.
Issue Date:2009
Description:71 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3392086
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2009

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