Do mortality cues increase state autonomy? The moderating roles of trait autonomy, flexibility, and curiosity

Publication Name

Death Studies


This study tested the effects of deep and subtle mortality cues on state autonomy, in addition to the moderating roles of trait autonomy, psychological flexibility, and curiosity. Australian undergraduate students (N = 442) self-reported on moderator variables before being randomly allocated to receive either deep mortality cues, subtle mortality cues, or a control task, and finally reported their state autonomy for life goals. Trait autonomy did not moderate the effect of mortality cues on state autonomy. However, for individuals high on psychological flexibility, any mortality cues led to increased state autonomy compared to the control. For individuals high on curiosity, there was some evidence that only deep mortality cues led to increased state autonomy. These findings help clarify the nature of growth outcomes (in terms of more authentic, autonomous motivation for life goals), and the personal characteristics that facilitate growth-oriented processing of death awareness.

Open Access Status

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