“References to death abound in many television programs accessible to most people. Terror Management Theory postulates that existential anxiety, which death reminders activate, may reinforce materialistic tendencies. The current article explores the effect of a death reminder in television shows on the desirability of advertised products. Consistent with Terror Management Theory’s predictions, in two studies participants show greater desire for products, which were advertised immediately following clips from programs that featured a death scene, compared with programs that did not. Cognitive accessibility of death predicted the appeal difference while changes in affect or interest in the show did not. The findings are discussed in light on affective and existential theories which make opposite predictions. Implications and future directions are considered.”
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