Who Wants to (Digitally) Live Forever? The Connections That Narcissism Has with Motives for Digital Immortality and the Desire for Digital Avatars

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Aug 23;20(17):6632. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20176632.


We examined the role that death anxiety (for self and others) and motivation for digital immortality played in the associations that narcissistic personality traits had with the desire for digital avatars (of self and others) in a sample of Israeli community members (N = 1041). We distinguished between four forms of narcissism: extraverted narcissism (characterized by assertive self-enhancement), antagonistic narcissism (characterized by defensiveness and hostility), neurotic narcissism (characterized by emotional distress), and communal narcissism (characterized by attempts to emphasize superiority over others by exaggerating communal characteristics such as being extraordinarily helpful). Our sequential parallel mediation analyses showed that narcissistic personality traits were associated with fear of death and the desire for symbolic immortality (having a digital avatar for self and others), with mainly indirect associations via fear of death and the motivation for eternal life and to be there for others. Discussion is focused on the role that fear of death and specific "defensive control" motives for having digital avatars (e.g., motivation for eternal life and to be there for others) may play in the desire for digital immortality reported by individuals with narcissistic personality traits.

Keywords: death anxiety; digital avatars; digital immortality; narcissism.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Narcissism*

Supplementary concepts

  • Necrophobia

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.