Thinking about death can motivate for charity: Study

London: It may seem quite a morbid thought, but your attitude towards charity is guided by the way you think about death, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Essex found people who thought about death in a deeply personal way were more likely to be concerned about society than those who thought of it in the abstract, the Daily Mail reported.

For the study, researcher Laura Blackie and her advisor Philip Cozzolino, recruited 90 people and divided them into two groups.

Some were asked to respond to general questions about death -- such as their thoughts and feelings about death and what they think happens to them if they die.

Others were asked to imagine dying in an apartment fire and then asked four questions about how they thought they would deal with the experience and how they thought their family would react. A control group thought about dental pain.

Next, the participants were given a new article about blood donations.

Some people read an article saying that blood donations were "at record highs" and the need was low; others read another article reporting the opposite.

They were then offered a pamphlet guaranteeing fast registration at a blood centre that day and told they should only take a pamphlet if they intended to donate.

People who thought about death in the abstract were motivated by the story about the blood shortage. They were more likely to take a pamphlet if they read that article.

However, people who thought about their own death were likely to take a pamphlet regardless of which article they read; their willingness to donate blood didn`t seem to depend on how badly it was needed.

"Death is a very powerful motivation," Blackie said.

"People seem aware that their life is limited. That can be one of the best gifts that we have in life, motivating us to embrace life and embrace goals that are important to us."

When people think about death abstractly, they may be more likely to fear it, while thinking specifically about your own death "enables people to integrate the idea of death into their lives more fully", she said.

Thinking about their mortality in a more personal and authentic manner may make them think more about what they value in life, she added.