The Effect of Death Anxiety and Age on Health-Promoting Behaviors: A Terror-Management Theory Perspective

BOZO ÖZEN Ö., Tunca A., Simsek Y.

JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, vol.143, no.4, pp.377-389, 2009 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 143 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.3200/jrlp.143.4.377-389
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.377-389
  • Keywords: age, death anxiety, dual-process model, health-promoting behaviors, terror-management theory, MORTALITY SALIENCE, OLDER-ADULTS, THOUGHTS, LIFE, ATTITUDES, RESPONSES, THREAT, STYLE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The authors aimed to examine the effect of death anxiety on the reports of health-promoting behaviors and to determine the role of age in this relation using a terror-management theory perspective. Participants were 100 individuals from Young adult (those who were 20-35 years of age) and older adult (those who were 60 years of age and older) groups whom the authors assigned to the death anxiety or control conditions. The questionnaire set included a demographic information sheet and the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II (S. Walker, K. R. Sechrist, & N. J. Pender, 1987). Before administering the scales, the authors gave the participants in the experimental condition a brief excerpt whose content induced death-related thoughts and led the participants to think about their own death. The authors calculated a 2 (young adults vs. older adults) x 2 (death anxiety vs. no death anxiety) between-subjects factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test their hypotheses. Although ANOVA results did not yield a significant main effect for age, the main effect of the conditions was significant, indicating that people in the death anxiety condition reported more health-promoting behaviors than did people in the control condition. The interaction of the age and conditions was also significant. The authors discuss the strengths, limitations, and implications of the findings.