The Surprising Ways Death Shapes Our Lives

The Surprising Ways Death Shapes Our Lives

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As Monty Python prophesied, “So…always look on the bright side of death / Just before you draw your terminal breath”

BrainCraft is written and hosted by Vanessa Hill for PBS Digital Studios. Talking psychology, neuroscience & why we act the way we do.
Sound design: Joel Werner (
Production Assistant: Ella Colley
Thanks to Jason Goldman, Anna and Joe for their help filming this episode.

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Long, C. R., & Greenwood, D. N. (2013). Joking in the face of death: A terror management approach to humor production. Humor, 26(4), 493-509.

Rosenblatt, A., Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., & Lyon, D. (1989). Evidence for terror management theory: I. The effects of mortality salience on reactions to those who violate or uphold cultural values. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(4), 681.

Association for Psychological Science. (2011, May 20). How you think about death may affect how you act. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2015 from

Ben-Ari, O. T., Florian, V., & Mikulincer, M. (1999). The impact of mortality salience on reckless driving: a test of terror management mechanisms. Journal of personality and social psychology, 76(1), 35.

Ben-Ari, O. T., Florian, V., & Mikulincer, M. (2000). Does a threat appeal moderate reckless driving? A terror management theory perspective. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 32(1), 1-10.

Burke, B. L., Martens, A., & Faucher, E. H. (2010). Two decades of terror management theory: A meta-analysis of mortality salience research. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(2), 155-195.

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20 Responses

  1. Mike Kang says:

    TestTubeNews soundtrack?

  2. The boy who Fall Out says:

    @VanessaHill (2015) “Subscribe for a video every week… Anyway I always
    That’s sad :(((

  3. Evan Roden says:

    +braincraft, what song is played at: 3:00?

  4. reptilian overlord says:


  5. Grant Hauck says:

    I care to digress. Nothing is certain, for even science, the pursuit of
    objective knowledge, is a matter of lessening uncertainty.

  6. whitehawk38 says:

    I’m gonna live forever

  7. Andrew Brown says:

    I’m not afraid of being dead, I’m afraid of not getting to live anymore.

  8. Jared Jeanotte says:

    Joe is obnoxious I can’t watch his videos he feels the need to use straw
    man arguments.

  9. MikeLadies says:

    I’m just waiting on cybernetics becoming a thing.

  10. universaltruth90 says:

    I will avoid death. I’ll transfer my mind and emotion into a supercomputer
    or turn into a super cyborg or use the black arts, meet beings from another
    dimension and wish for everlasting life. I’m IMMORTALLLLLLL!!!

  11. RamoneCelso says:

    Vanessa Hill lista y guapita. Translation: tacos, enchilada, guacamole.

  12. Joseph Favela says:

    About that ‘youth becoming more reckless’ thing, I have to say that I’ve
    always loathed the phrase, “No regrets.” It’s completely moronic – only
    psychopaths have no regrets. To regret is be wise – we remind ourselves
    that there was something we could have done better and it reminds us to
    preform better in the future. But I have to say that if ACDC is playing on
    the radio, I’ll drive recklessly. Haha.

  13. FirstRisingSouI says:

    To me, knowing I’m going to die is strangely relaxing. I mean sure, better
    tomorrow than today, but I’m okay with it.

  14. Duane Vasquez says:

    I waited my whole life for this video. Now I can pass from this life, to
    the next ?

  15. SephCat74 says:

    “that’s my line!” he whispers.

    hahah xD

  16. Zain Majeed says:

    Such an interesting video! And I just have to say that you have possibly
    the most amazing voice I’ve ever heard, only contested with Markiplier.
    I love your videos and I am currently heading over to gross science to see
    Anna’s collaboration!
    Keep at it Vanessa!

  17. Jackson Jones says:

    This youtube channel deservers way more subscribers, whose with me?

  18. Daniel Jones says:

    0:06 I would caption it as: Man: “What are you thinking of, dog?” Dog: “I
    have seen that which no waking mortal eye must see.”

  19. erin ireland says:

    “That’s my line!”

  20. AcelSam says: