INTRODUCTION, The proposition that people are often unaware of the forces that lead them to do the things they do is one of the oldest, most widely accepted, but at times most controversial ideas in the history of psychology. Since psychology's inception, the popularity of accounts of behavior that emphasize unconscious motivational forces has waxed and waned. Although virtually all psychologists probably agree that people are typically not aware of all the forces and processes that determine their behavior, the idea that people's thoughts, feelings, and actions are driven by powerful fears and needs of which they are unaware is considerably more contentious. Building on earlier theorizing in existential philosophy and psychoanalytic psychology, Terror Management Theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986; Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991) posits that a very deeply rooted fear of death unique to our species motivates a great deal of human behavior. A substantial literature consisting of over 170 separate studies conducted in at least nine different countries has accumulated over the past 15 years, supporting a variety of hypotheses derived from TMT (for reviews, see Greenberg, Solomon, & Pyszczynski, 1997; Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Greenberg, 2003). This research demonstrates that thoughts of death affect a broad range of human behavior, but that these effects occur in the absence of consciously experienced affect and occur primarily when death-related thoughts are on the fringes of consciousness.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Social Motivation|
|Subtitle of host publication||Conscious and Unconscious Processes|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||15|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2004|
ASJC Scopus subject areas