Generativity and other buffers of death awareness in first responders


Background and Objectives: Anxiety buffer disruption theory (ABDT) predicts that posttraumatic stress reactions occur when buffers of awareness of death, such as meaning in life, self-esteem, and social intimacy, fail to suppress overwhelming death-anxiety. In this study, we hypothesized that generativity may also serve as an effective buffer of awareness of death and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Design: The present study investigated the presence of anxiety buffering disruption in first responders with a spectrum of posttraumatic stress via a mediation path model of self-report measures of PTSD symptoms, anxiety buffer variables, and death-thought accessibility. Methods: To investigate the role of anxiety buffering in PTSD, a sample of 986 first responders completed self-report measures of PTSD symptoms and anxiety buffer variables in randomized order, and a death-thought accessibility measure following random assignment to mortality salience (n = 290) or control (n = 302) conditioning. Results and Conclusion: Results of structural equation modeling indicated PTSD symptoms have a small relation to increased awareness of death whereas anxiety buffering variables did not mediate the relation between PTSD symptoms and awareness of death. Nonetheless, generativity and meaning in life, self-esteem, and social support were significant predictors of lower levels of PTSD.



Document Type





anxiety buffer disruption theory, first responders, generativity, Posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, terror management

Publication Date


Journal Title

Anxiety, Stress and Coping