New research from University of Kent reveals that people with low self-esteem use a variety of escape mechanisms to avoid thinking about their own mortality.
In addition to drinking more alcohol in response to a mortality reminder, people with low self-esteem may be more likely to engage in health risk behaviors such as drug use, binge eating and smoking.
In five separate studies, the team from University of Kent found evidence that people with low self-esteem respond to reminders of their own mortality by directing their focus away from the "self".
"This escape from self-awareness took the form of avoiding writing about the self, heightened alcohol consumption and less activation of self-related thoughts," said lead researcher Dr Arnaud Wisman from the university's school of psychology.
The research found a link between people with low self-esteem having unconscious concerns about their own mortality and then employing a variety of ways to escape from self-awareness.
"This would enable them to, at least in the short term, avoid negative self-awareness," the authors noted.
The findings will have implications for future public health policy decision-making, they concluded in a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology