Death, quest, and self-esteem: re-examining the role of self-esteem and religion following mortality salience

Robert B. Arrowood, Tommy Coleman III, Sally B. Swanson, Ralph W. Hood, Cathy R. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Terror management theory suggests that when mortality concerns are salient, religion can serve as a defence in order to boost self-esteem and shield against the potential for anxiety. The current study examined whether individual differences in religious orientation (i.e., quest) interacted with reminders of death to influence well-being. To the extent that religiosity buffers against mortality awareness on defensiveness, the present results demonstrated that individuals high in quest orientation, in comparison to low-quest-orientated individuals, reported lower well-being (i.e., self-esteem) following reminders of death. These results add to the existing body of literature suggesting that thoughts of death can serve to decrease well-being, but that this effect is influenced by individual differences, namely trait quest religiosity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalReligion, Brain & Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018



  • individual differences
  • mortality
  • quest
  • self-esteem
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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