Mortality Salience is a term used to describe social scientific studies that somehow iterate the fact of eventual death to participants in order to measure their preferences, ideas, or behaviour in a “mortality-salient” state of mind. In short, what do you do, say, or think when you’ve just been reminded you will die some day?
Well, voters turned out in Toronto yesterday, electing a new mayor and new city councillors across the municipality. The results were discouraging for those of us who didn’t win… call us what you will. But I believe a conspiracy was afoot!
Check out this Toronto Sun article announcing the arrival of KFC’s “Double Down” sandwich in Canada, a culinary monster of Frankensteinian proportions that, according to the Sun has “fascinated Canadians” and will “finally be available”… we’ve been waiting so long! Since April? The US had it in April? Why didn’t we all just go down there to get a sneak taste??!! The purportedly delicious sandwich, slapdash as it may be in its construction, boasts at sodium count of 1740 milligrams… more than your daily intake.
Granted, the Toronto Sun is well-known for being a “conservative” paper… just check out this poll about yesterday’s election results and you get a sense of the readership… and while the “liberal elite” epicures in this city may have turned their nose up at the gastronomically-grotesque concoction while heading out to vote for their candidate of choice, the sandwich was here nonetheless, neatly wrapped and secure in the hands of voters city-wide (I can confidently assume)… and it arrived just before election time! Its damage has already been done! Need evidence? I present my case:
Certainly, anyone who has eaten too much in one fell swoop knows what its like to be ashamed of what you’ve just done, how you undoubtedly come to the conclusion that this is your last or most damning meal… I myself come to the conclusion after every “Canadian Maple” or similarly creamed/buttered/glazed doughnut I ingest that it has just shaved a year off of my life, a year better spent with my grand-dogs or my partner or my family or in my pool of gold (a la Scrooge McDuck) and this is where the science of mortality salience steps in…
As mortality salience increases, people tested on resource-usage and other markers of capitalist preference and financial behaviour tended to become increasingly extreme compared to control study participants:
“In Study 1, subjects in the mortality-salience condition, compared with subjects who wrote about a neutral topic, had higher financial expectations for themselves 15 years in the future, in terms of both their overall worth and the amount they would be spending on pleasurable items such as clothing and entertainment. Study 2 extended these findings by demonstrating that subjects exposed to death became more greedy and consumed more resources in a forest-management game.” (Kasser and Sheldon, 2000).
I ask you, as I dare not declare any strong correlations or conclusions myself (for fear of being wrong), does this small-government, lower spending, fewer city jobs, more room for cars, self-interested mayor-elect echo the desires of a citizenry arterially at risk, increasingly aware of their own impending demise at the hands of a breadless fried-chicken heart buster?
I follow this up with yet another query: What does Rob Ford, and now by extension the citizens of Toronto, owe to KFC in this sinister deal?
Thanks, Double Down. For nothing.