A review of recent research shows that people are better to themselves and others when they're thinking about their own mortality.
Woody Allen once said, "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." Sometimes awareness of mortality can be a little scary, or make life seem a bit bleak. But a new study finds that when we're reminded of our mortality, we may actually be better to ourselves and kinder to others.
Authors of a new study reviewed earlier research that had set out to determine how the awareness of death might influence people's positive behaviors towards others and themselves. Lead author Kenneth Vail and his team discussed some of the noteworthy findings. One study, for example, found that people are actually more likely to help out others when they are in the immediate vicinity of a cemetery.
When we're reminded of our mortality, we may actually be better to ourselves and kinder to others.
When actors talked to unsuspecting passersby about the value of helping others, the passersby were more likely to help people who had dropped a notebook when they were near a cemetery, compared to people who hadn't been "primed" in the same way.