When thinking of my death leads to thinking of others’ deaths: the effect of collectivism, psychological closeness, and mortality salience on prosocial behavioral intentions in the Sewol ferry disaster

Jiyoung Lee, Yungwook Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many South Koreans were traumatized by the 2014 Sewol ferry incident. Focusing on the Sewol ferry incident, this study examined the relationship between collectivism, psychological closeness, and prosocial behavior intentions and further investigated how thoughts about one’s own death moderated this association. Using a sample of South Korean adults (N = 310), we conducted an online experiment and generated several important findings: (a) collectivism increased psychological closeness; (b) psychological closeness increased prosocial behavior intentions; (c) collectivism increased prosocial behavior intentions; (d) psychological closeness mediated the relationship between collectivism and prosocial behavior intentions; and (e) the mediation effect of psychological closeness on the relationship between collectivism and prosocial behavior intentions was strong for people who thought about their own deaths. Our research complements the terror management theory (TMT) by suggesting that thinking about one’s own death can have a beneficial role in eliciting a prosocial behavior. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. This study contributes to building a disaster-related policy and resilient infrastructure in that it helps understanding how collectivistic orientations and psychological closeness toward disasters play roles in disaster preparedness and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-770
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Disaster management
  • Sewol ferry incident
  • collectivism
  • prosocial behavior intention
  • psychological closeness
  • terror management theory

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