Rest in peace? Brand-induced mortality salience and consumer behavior

M.L. Fransen, B.M. Fennis, Adriaan T.H. Pruyn, Enny Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


The present research examines the hypothesis that brands can automatically activate mortality-related thoughts and, in turn, affect consumer behavior. Terror Management Theory (TMT; [Greenberg Jeff, Pyszczynski Tom, Solomon Sheldon. The Causes and Consequences of a Need for Self-esteem: A Terror Management Theory. In: Baumeister Roy F, editor. Public Self and Private Self. New York/Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1986. pp. 189–192.]) predicts that brand-induced mortality salience leads to increased spending and worldview defense. The present findings show that explicit exposure to an insurance brand increases the accessibility of death-related thoughts, which, in turn, increases personal spending intentions (Experiment 1). Experiment 2 demonstrates that (implicit) insurance brand exposure positively affects charity donations. Additionally, the results of Experiment 3 reveal that subliminal brand exposure affects worldview defense in such a way that individuals who unconsciously observe an insurance brand rate domestic products more favorably and foreign products less favorably than individuals in the control condition. Brand associations can affect (unconscious) consumer behavior in various unanticipated ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of business research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Spending
  • METIS-252629
  • Worldview defense
  • Mortality salience
  • Brand Associations
  • Consumer behavior
  • IR-60328


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