Probabilistic thinking and death anxiety: A Terror Management based study

Bert Hayslip, Eric R. Schuler, Kyle S. Page, Kellye S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Terror Management Theory has been utilized to understand how death can change behavioral outcomes and social dynamics. One area that is not well researched is why individuals willingly engage in risky behavior that could accelerate their mortality. One method of distancing a potential life threatening outcome when engaging in risky behaviors is through stacking probability in favor of the event not occurring, termed probabilistic thinking. The present study examines the creation and psychometric properties of the Probabilistic Thinking scale in a sample of young, middle aged, and older adults (n = 472). The scale demonstrated adequate internal consistency reliability for each of the four subscales, excellent overall internal consistency, and good construct validity regarding relationships with measures of death anxiety. Reliable age and gender effects in probabilistic thinking were also observed. The relationship of probabilistic thinking as part of a cultural buffer against death anxiety is discussed, as well as its implications for Terror Management research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-270
Number of pages22
JournalOmega (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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