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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2005 Mar;31(3):307-20.

Mother Teresa versus Ebenezer Scrooge: mortality salience leads proselfs to endorse self-transcendent values (unless proselfs are reassured).

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Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4820, USA.


Recently, Jonas, Schimel, Greenberg, and Pyszczynski demonstrated that mortality salience (MS) increased contributions to (an ingroup) charity (i.e., the Scrooge effect). The authors examined whether individual differences in social value orientations would moderate the Scrooge effect. In line with an Ebenezer shift hypothesis, proselfs were less likely than prosocials to endorse self-transcendent values in a dental pain control condition but were indistinguishable from prosocials in an MS condition as proselfs increased endorsement of self-transcendent values under MS (Experiments 1 and 2a). However, when participants gave their impressions of an unfavorable prosocial or a favorable proself prior to the MS manipulation, proselfs were again less likely than prosocials to endorse self-transcendent values (Experiments 2a and 2b), suggesting that proselfs are unlikely to transform into prosocials under conditions of MS when given reasons to disidentify with prosocial values or identify with proself values.

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