A terror management perspective on ageism

Andy Martens, Jamie L. Goldenberg, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

89 Scopus citations


In the present article, we present a theoretical perspective on ageism that is derived from terror management theory. According to the theory, human beings manage deeply-rooted fears about their vulnerability to death through symbolic constructions of meaning and corresponding standards of value. We extend this perspective to suggest that elderly individuals present an existential threat for the non-elderly because they remind us all that: (a) death is inescapable, (b) the body is fallible, and (c) the bases by which we may secure self-esteem (and manage death anxiety) are transitory. We review some recent empirical evidence in support of these ideas and then discuss possible avenues for combating ageism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-239
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 7 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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