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Mental Processes

Creative People Fear Death Less than Others

Creative people with high levels of ambition and achievement are less likely to fear death than other people with lower creativity levels, according to new research from the UK.

The study was conducted by Rotem Perach, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Kent’s School of Psychology, under the supervision of Dr Arnaud Wisman, shows that those with high levels of creative ambition and achievement are particularly likely to be more resilient to death concerns.

In what is thought to be the first empirical study of the anxiety-buffering functions of creativity among people for whom creativity constitutes a central part of their cultural worldview, the research analyzed findings from a group of 108 students.

The students completed two questionnaires to gauge their level of creative achievement and creative ambition. Those with a record of creative achievement, coupled to high levels of creative ambition, were found to make less death associations in their thought processes after thinking about their own demise in comparison to those in the control condition.

In comparison, among those with low levels of creative ambition – whatever their record of creative achievement – thinking about their own mortality did not affect their levels of death-thought accessibility in comparison to controls.

The findings suggest that those who pursue creativity and produce significant creative contributions may benefit from existential security in the face of death.

The findings were published in the Journal of Creative Behavior.