Task engagement after mortality salience: The effects of creativity, conformity and connectedness on worldview defence



Terror management research has shown that activating thoughts about mortality (mortality salience) increases defence of one's worldview. This study investigated how worldview defence is affected by engaging in a task that fosters creativity, conformity, or sharing values after being reminded of death. After writing about death or a control topic, participants were randomly assigned to design a t-shirt with the goal of being as creative as possible, trying to please others but not oneself, or trying to connect with others via shared values. After mortality salience, conforming to others led to increased worldview defence whereas sharing values did not. Further, engaging in a creative task decreased worldview defence after mortality salience. Implications for understanding the interface between different forms of social connectedness, creativity and the management of existential fears are discussed. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.