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Consider Death….For a Better Life


Consider Death….For a Better Life

(ePharmaNews) - "Lead me from death to life…" the famous phrase from Hindu Upanishads, which appears to hold -beyond its spiritual and philosophical meaning- a scientific truth according to a new research.

This research was published in the online edition of Personality and Social Psychology Review this month, and found that awareness of death can improve physical health and help re-prioritize life's goals and values; even non-conscious thinking about death like walking by a cemetery or coming across a funeral could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.
Past research suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous, fueling everything from prejudice and greed to violence. Such studies related to terror management theory (TMT), which posits that we uphold certain cultural beliefs to manage our feelings of mortality, have rarely explored the potential benefits of death awareness.

"This tendency for TMT research to primarily deal with negative attitudes and harmful behaviors has become so deeply entrenched in our field that some have recently suggested that death awareness is simply a bleak force of social destruction," says Kenneth Vail of the University of Missouri, lead author of the new study in the online edition of Personality and Social Psychology Review this month. "There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviors that can minimize harm to oneself and others, and can promote well-being."

Vail and colleagues performed an extensive review of recent studies on the effects of death awareness of people. For example, they pointed out to one interesting study in 2008 that tested how just being physically near a cemetery affects the willing of people to help a stranger.
The researchers observed people who were either passing through a cemetery or were one block away, out of sight of the cemetery. Actors at each location talked near the participants about either the value of helping others or a control topic, and then some moments later, another actor dropped her notebook. The researchers then tested in each condition how many people helped the stranger and found that the number of participants who helped the second confederate with her notebook was 40% greater at the cemetery than a block away from the cemetery.

"Researchers hypothesized that if the cultural value of helping was made important to people, then the heightened awareness of death would motivate an increase in helping behaviors," Vail says.
Another more recent study led in 2011 found that death reminders increased intentions to perform breast self-exams when women were exposed to information that linked the behavior to self-empowerment.

One major implication of this body of work, Vail says, is that we should "turn attention and research efforts toward better understanding of how the motivations triggered by death awareness can actually improve people's lives, rather than how it can cause malady and social strife." Write the authors: "The dance with death can be a delicate but potentially elegant stride toward living the good life."


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

ePharmaNews






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