Benefits of Heroes to Coping with Mortality Threats by Providing Perceptions of Personal Power and Reducing Unhealthy Compensatory Consumption

Aulona Ulqinaku*, Gülen Sarial Abi, Elaine L. Kinsella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Marketing
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1433-1445
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 18 July 2020.


  • Compensatory consumption
  • Coronavirus
  • Heroes
  • Mortality salience
  • power

Cite this