When the reaper becomes a salesman: The influence of terror management on product preferences


  • Tom van Bommel AmsterBrand: Implicit Marketing Research.
  • Cormac O'Dwyer Leiden University, The Netherlands.
  • Tim W.M. Zuidgeest AmsterBrand: Implicit Marketing Research.
  • Fenna H. Poletiek Leiden University, The Netherlands.




Brand Preferences, Mortality Salience


The present research investigates how consumer choice is affected by Terror Management Theory’s proposition of Mortality Salience increasing one’s cultural worldview defense and self-esteem striving. The study builds empirically upon prior theorizing by Arndt, Solomon, Kasser and Sheldon (2004). During an experiment, we manipulated Mortality Salience and measured product preferences for conspicuousness and familiarity. Participants primed with death were more likely to choose conspicuous products, corroborating previous research of mortality salience raising materialistic tendencies. In addition, participants showed a tendency to prefer familiar brands. These results are in line with the Terror Management Theory framework.

Author Biography

Fenna H. Poletiek, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences


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