Perceived collective continuity and ingroup identification as defence against death awareness

Fabio Sani*, Marina Herrera, Mhairi Bowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Perhaps unique among the animal species, humans are aware that they will ultimately die. Terror management theory (TMT) posits that investing in a social group helps people to manage paralysing anxiety stemming from death awareness. In line with this proposition, research to date has shown that when reminded of their own mortality, people increase their identification with a relevant group and defend its beliefs, values, and practices. In the reported study, we demonstrate that a mortality salience induction enhances people's perceptions of group temporal endurance-or perceived collective continuity (PCC), as we define it. Enhanced PCC leads, in turn, to enhanced group identification. This is in line with the TMT assumption that death awareness leads people to invest in a social group because this constitutes a temporally enduring meaning-system that imbues life with meaning, order, and permanence, and promises death transcendence to those who meet the prescribed standards of value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-245
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Group identification
  • Perceived collective continuity
  • Social identity
  • Symbolic immortality
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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