Mortality threats are among the strongest psychological threats that an individual can encounter. Previous research shows that mortality threats lead people to engage in unhealthy compensatory consumption (i.e., overeating), as a maladaptive coping response to threat. In this paper, we propose that reminders of heroes when experiencing mortality threat increases perceptions of personal power, which in turn buffers the need to engage in unhealthy compensatory consumption. We test and find support for our predictions in a series of four studies that include real‐world Twitter data after a series of terrorist attacks in 2016–2017, and three experimental studies conducted online and in the field with behavioral measures after Day of the Dead and during COVID‐19 pandemic. These findings advance the literature on compensatory consumption, mortality threats, and the psychological functions of heroes.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 18 July 2020.
- Compensatory consumption
- Mortality salience