The rationality of mortals: Thoughts of death disrupt analytic processing

Abstract

Thinking about death triggers defensive mechanisms that use up executive resources, which are no longer available for demanding mental tasks such as logical reasoning, moral judgment, and probabilistic thinking. This chapter reviews evidence for the disruptive effect of death thoughts on various reasoning tasks, and speculates on the reason why we humans came to be aware of our future death, only to try not to think about it, at a significant cognitive cost.

Publication
New Approaches to Reasoning Research
JF Bonnefon
JF Bonnefon
Behavioral Scientist

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