Mortality Salience and Metabolism: Glucose Drinks Reduce Worldview Defense Caused by Mortality Salience


The current work tested the hypothesis that a glucose drink would reduce worldview defense following mortality salience. Participants consumed either a glucose drink or placebo, wrote about either death or dental pain, and then completed a measure of worldview defense (viewing positively someone with pro-US views and viewing negatively someone with anti-US views). Mortality salience increased world- view defense among participants who consumed a placebo but not among participants who consumed a glucose drink. Glucose might reduce defensiveness after mortality salience by increasing the effectiveness of the self-controlled suppression of death-related thought, by providing resources to cope with mortality salience and reducing its threatening nature, or by distancing the individual from actual physical death.

Share and Cite:

Gailliot, M. (2012). Mortality Salience and Metabolism: Glucose Drinks Reduce Worldview Defense Caused by Mortality Salience. Psychology, 3, 991-996. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.311149.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Anderson, M. C., & Green, C. (2001). Suppressing unwanted memories by executive control. Nature, 6826, 366-369. doi:10.1038/35066572
[2] Aries, P. (1981). The hour of our death. New York: Oxford University Press.
[3] Arndt, J., Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., & Simon, L. (1997). Suppression, accessibility of death-related thoughts, and cul tural worldview defense: Exploring the psychodynamics of terror management. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 5 18. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.73.1.5
[4] Baumeister, R. F. (2005). The cultural animal: Human nature, meaning, and social life. New York: Oxford.
[5] Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
[6] Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). Strength model of self-control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 351-355. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00534.x
[7] Becker, E. (1973). The denial of death. New York: Academic Press.
[8] Blascovich, J., & Mendes, W. B. (2000). Challenge and threat apprais als: The role of affective cues. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.), Feeling and thinking: The role of affect insocial cognition (pp. 59-82). New York: Cambridge.
[9] Blascovich, J., & Tomaka, J. (1996). The biopsychosocial model of arousal regulation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 28, 1-51. doi:10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60235-X
[10] Cleeland, C. S., Bennett, G. J., Dantzer, R., Dougherty, P. M., Dunn, A. J., et al. (2003). Are the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment due to a shared biologic mechanism? A cytokine-immunologic mo del of cancer symptoms. Cancer, 97, 2919-2925. doi:10.1002/cncr.11382
[11] DeWall, C. N., & Baumeister, R. F. (2006). Alone but feeling no pain: Effects of social exclusion on physical pain tolerance and pain threshold, affective forecasting, and interpersonal empathy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 1-15. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.91.1.1
[12] DeWall, C. N., Baumeister, R. F., Gailliot, M. T., & Maner, J. K. (2008). Depletion makes the heart grow less helpful: Helping as a function of self-regulatory energy and genetic relatedness. Personal ity and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1653-1662. doi:10.1177/0146167208323981
[13] DeWall, C. N., Deckman, T., Gailliot, M. T., & Bushman, B. J. (2009). Sweetenedblood cools hot tempers: Physiological self-control and aggression. AggressiveBehavior, 37, 73-80. doi:10.1002/ab.20366
[14] Eisenberger, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2004). Why rejection hurts: The neurocognitive overlap between physical and social pain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 294-300. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2004.05.010
[15] Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., & Williams, K. D. (2003). Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290 292. doi:10.1126/science.1089134
[16] Fairclough, S. H., & Houston, K. (2004). A metabolic measure of men tal effort. Biological Psychology, 66, 177-190. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2003.10.001
[17] Feifel, H, & Branscomb, A. B. (1973). Who’s afraid of death? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 81, 282-288. doi:10.1037/h0034519
[18] Florian, V., & Mikulincer, M. (1997). Fear of death and the judgment of social transgressions: A multidimensional test of terror manage ment theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 369 380. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.73.2.369
[19] Friese, M., & Hofmann, W. (2008). What would you have as a last supper? Thoughts about death influence evaluation and consumption of food products. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1388-1394. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.06.003
[20] Gailliot, M. T., Peruche, B. M., Plant., E. A., & Baumeister, R. F. (2009). Stereotypes and prejudice in the blood: Sucrose drinks re duce prejudice and stereotyping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 288-290. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.09.003
[21] Gailliot, M. T. (2008). Unlocking the energy dynamics of executive functioning: Linking executive functioning to brain glycogen. Per spectives on Psychological Science, 3, 245-263. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00077.x
[22] Gailliot, M. T. (2009). The effortful and energy-demanding nature of prosocial behavior. In M. Mikulincer, & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Prosocial motives, feelings, and behavior—The better angels of our nature. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
[23] Gailliot, M. T., & Baumeister, R. F. (2007). The physiology of will power: Linking blood glucose to self-control. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 303-327. doi:10.1177/1088868307303030
[24] Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Tice, D. M., Brewer, L. E., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2007). Self control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 325-336. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.2.325
[25] Gailliot, M. T., Hildebrandt, B., Eckel, L. A., & Baumeister, R. F. (2010). A theory oflimited metabolic energy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms—Increased metabolic demands during the luteal phase divert metabolic resourcesfrom and impair self control. Review of General Psychology, 14, 269-282. doi:10.1037/a0018525
[26] Gailliot, M. T., Schmeichel, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2006). Self-regulatory processes defend against the threat of death: Effects of self-control depletion and trait self-control on thoughts and fears of dying. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 49-62. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.91.1.49
[27] Gailliot, M. T., Schmeichel, B. J., & Maner, J. K. (2007). Differentiat ing the effects of self-control and self-esteem on reactions to mortal ity salience. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 43, 894-901. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2006.10.011
[28] Gilliland, M. W. (1978). Energy analysis: A new public policy tool. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
[29] Goldenberg, J. L., Arndt, J., Hart, J., & Brown, M. (2005). Dying to be thin: The effects of mortality salience and body mass index on restricted eating among women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1400-1412. doi:10.1177/0146167205277207
[30] Gordijn, E. H., Hindriks, I., Koomen, W., Dijksterhuis, A., & Van Knippenber, A. (2004). Consequences of stereotype suppression and internal suppression motivation: A self-regulation approach. Person ality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 212-224. doi:10.1177/0146167203259935
[31] Greenberg, J., Arndt, J., Schimel, J., Pyszczynski, T., & Solomon, S. (2001). Clarifying the function of mortality salience-induced world view defense: Renewed suppression or reduced accessibility of death-related thoughts? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 70-76.
[32] Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., Rosenblatt, A., Veeder, M., Kirkland, S., & Lyon, D. (1990). Evidence for terror management theory II: The effects of mortality salience on reactions to those who threaten or bolster the cultural worldview. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 308-318. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.58.2.308
[33] Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., Simon, L., & Breus, M. (1994). Role of consciousness and accessibility of death-related thoughts in mortality salience effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 627-637. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.67.4.627
[34] Greenberg, J., Simon, L., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Chatel, D. (1992). Terror management and tolerance: Does mortality salience always intensify negative reactions to others who threaten one’s worldview? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 212 220.
[35] Harmon-Jones, E., Simon, L., Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & McGregor, H. (1997). Terror management theory and self-es teem: Evidence that increased self-esteem reduces mortality salience effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 24-36. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.72.1.24
[36] Heine, S. J., Harihara, M., & Niiya, Y. (2002). Terror management in Japan. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 5, 187-196. doi:10.1111/1467-839X.00103
[37] Hirschberger, G., & Ein-Dor, T. (2005). Does a candy a day keep the death thoughts away? The terror management function of eating. Ba sic and Applied Social Psychology, 27, 179-186. doi:10.1207/s15324834basp2702_9
[38] Kleiber, M. (1961). The fire of life: An introduction to animal energetics. New York: Krieger.
[39] Landau, M. J., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., Cohen, F., Pyszczynski, T., Arndt, J. et al. (2004). Deliver us from evil: The effects of mortality salience and reminders of 9/11 on support for President George W. Bush. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1136-1150. doi:10.1177/0146167204267988
[40] Lotka, A. J. (1922). Contribution to the energetics of evolution. Pro ceedings of the National Academy of Science, 8, 147-151. doi:10.1073/pnas.8.6.147
[41] MacDonald, G., & Leary, M. R. (2005). Why does social exclusion hurt? The relationship between social and physical pain. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 202-223. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.2.202
[42] MacLeod, C. M. (1989). Directed forgetting affects both direct and indirect tests of memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15, 13-21. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.15.1.13
[43] Mandel, N., & Smeesters, D. (2008). The sweet escape: Effects of mortality salience on consumption quantities for high and low-self esteem consumers. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 309-323. doi:10.1086/587626
[44] Maner, J. K., Kenrick, D. T., Neuberg, S. L., Becker, D. V., Robertson, B., Hofer, B., Delton, A., Butner, J., & Schaller, M. (2005). Functional projection: How fundamental social motives can bias interpersonal perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 63-78. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.88.1.63
[45] Maner, J. K., Gailliot, M. T., & DeWall, C. N. (2007). Adaptive atten tional attunement: Evidence for mating-related perceptual bias. Evo lution and Human Behavior, 28, 28-36. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2006.05.006
[46] Masicampo, E. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (2008). Toward a physiology of dual-process reasoning and judgment: Lemonade, willpower, and expensive rule-based analysis. Psychological Science, 19, 255-260. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02077.x
[47] Mayer, J. D., & Gaschke, Y. N. (1988). The experience and meta experience of mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 102-111. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.55.1.102
[48] McBride, D. M., & Dosher, B. A. (1997). A comparison of forgetting in an implicit and explicit memory task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126, 371-392. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.126.4.371
[49] Meyers, C. A., Albitar, M., & Estey, E. (2005). Cognitive impairment, fatigue, and cytokine levels in patients with acute myelogenous leu kemia or myelodysplastic syndrome. Cancer, 104, 788-793. doi:10.1002/cncr.21234
[50] Meyers, C. A., Byrne, K. S., & Komaski, R. (1995). Cognitive deficits in patients with small cell lung cancer before and after chemotherapy. Lung Cancer, 12, 231-235. doi:10.1016/0169-5002(95)00446-8
[51] Muraven, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Self-regulation and deple tion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? Psy chological Bulletin, 126, 247-259. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.2.247
[52] Muraven, M., Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Self-control as a limited resource: Regulatory depletion patterns. Journal of Person ality and Social Psychology, 74, 774-789. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.3.774
[53] Ochsmann, R., & Mathey, M. (1994). Depreciating of and distancing from foreigners: Effects of mortality salience. Unpublished manuscript, Mainz: Universitat Mainz.
[54] Odum, H. T. (1995). Self-organization and maximum empower. In C. A. S. Hall (Ed.), Maximum Power: The Ideas and Applications of H. T. Odum. Colorado: Colorado University Press.
[55] Pollak, J. M. (1980). Correlates of death anxiety: A review of empirical studies. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 10, 97-121. doi:10.2190/4KG5-HBH0-NNME-DM58
[56] Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., & Solomon, S. (1999). A dual process model of defense against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts: An extension of terror management theory. Psychological Review, 106, 835-845. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.106.4.835
[57] Rosenblatt, A., Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., & Lyon, D. (1989). Evidence for terror management theory I: The effects of mor tality salience on reactions to those who violate or uphold cultural values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 681-690. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.57.4.681
[58] Schoen, R. E., Tangen, C. M., Kuller, L. H., Burke, G. L., Cushman, M., Tracy, R. P. et al. (1999). Increased blood glucose and insulin, body size, and incident colorectal cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 91, 1147-1154. doi:10.1093/jnci/91.13.1147
[59] Smart, L., & Wegner, D. M. (1999). Covering up what can’t be seen: Concealable stigma and mental control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 474-486. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.3.474
[60] Weber, W. A., Petersen, V., Burkhard, S., Tyndale-Hines, L., Link, T., Peschel, C., & Schwaiger, M. (2003). Positron emission tomography in non-small-cell lung cancer: Prediction of response to chemotherapy by quantitative assessment of glucose use. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 21, 2651-2657. doi:10.1200/JCO.2003.12.004
[61] Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101, 34-52. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.101.1.34
[62] Wegner, D. M., & Zanakos, S. (1994). Chronic thought suppression. Journal of Personality, 62, 615-640. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00311.x
[63] Wenzlaff, R. M., & Wegner, D. M. (2000). Thought suppression. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 59-91. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.51.1.59
[64] Wheatley, T., & Haidt, J. (2005). Hypnotically induced disgust makes moral judgments more severe. Psychological Science, 16, 780-784. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01614.x
[65] Younes, M., Lechago, L. V., Somoano, J. R., Mosharaf, M., & Lechago, J. (1996). Wide expression of the human erythrocyte glucose trans porter Glut1 in human cancers. Cancer Research, 56, 1164-1167.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.