A Terror Management Theory of Social Behavior: The Psychological Functions of Self-Esteem and Cultural Worldviews

Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

799 Scopus citations

Abstract

This chapter deals with terror management theory that attempts to contribute to the understanding of social behavior by focusing on the essential being and circumstance of the human animal. The theory posits that all human motives are ultimately derived from a biologically based instinct for self-preservation. Relative equanimity in the face of these existential realities is possible through the creation and maintenance of culture, which serves to minimize the terror by providing a shared symbolic context that imbues the universe with order, meaning, stability, and permanence. The theory provides a theoretical link between superficially unrelated substantive areas, and focuses on one particular motive that makes it distinctly human and, unfortunately, distinctly destructive. Theories serve a variety of equally important functions, all of which are oriented towards improving the ability to think about and understand the subject matter of discipline. The chapter discusses the dual-component cultural anxiety buffer: worldview and self-esteem, the development and functioning of the cultural anxiety buffer for the individual, and a terror management analysis of social behavior in great detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-159
Number of pages67
JournalAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
Volume24
Issue numberC
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A Terror Management Theory of Social Behavior: The Psychological Functions of Self-Esteem and Cultural Worldviews'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this