Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelation

Tom Pyszczynski, Sheldon Solomon, Jeff L Greenberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Terror management theory posits that human awareness of the inevitability of death exerts a profound influence on diverse aspects of human thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior. People manage the potential for anxiety that results from this awareness by maintaining: (1) faith in the absolute validity of their cultural worldviews and (2) self-esteem by living up to the standards of value that are part of their worldviews. In this chapter, we take stock of the past 30 years of research and conceptual development inspired by this theory. After a brief review of evidence supporting the theory's fundamental propositions, we discuss extensions of the theory to shed light on: (1) the psychological mechanisms through which thoughts of death affect subsequent thought and behavior; (2) how the anxiety-buffering systems develop over childhood and beyond; (3) how awareness of death influenced the evolution of mind, culture, morality, and religion; (4) how death concerns lead people to distance from their physical bodies and seek solace in concepts of mind and spirit; and (5) the role of death concerns in maladaptive and pathological behavior. We also consider various criticisms of the theory and alternative conceptualizations that have been proposed. We conclude with a discussion of what we view as the most pressing issues for further research and theory development that have been inspired by the theory's first 30 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Pages1-70
Number of pages70
Volume52
ISBN (Print)9780128022474
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
Volume52
ISSN (Print)00652601

Fingerprint

Anxiety
Religion
Research
Self Concept
Motivation
Emotions
Psychology

Keywords

  • Attachment evolution
  • Culture
  • Death
  • Existential psychology
  • Meaning
  • Morality
  • Mortality salience
  • Self-esteem
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Greenberg, J. L. (2015). Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelation. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 52, pp. 1-70). (Advances in Experimental Social Psychology; Vol. 52). Academic Press Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001

Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory : From Genesis to Revelation. / Pyszczynski, Tom; Solomon, Sheldon; Greenberg, Jeff L.

Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 52 Academic Press Inc., 2015. p. 1-70 (Advances in Experimental Social Psychology; Vol. 52).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Pyszczynski, T, Solomon, S & Greenberg, JL 2015, Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelation. in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. vol. 52, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 52, Academic Press Inc., pp. 1-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001
Pyszczynski T, Solomon S, Greenberg JL. Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelation. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 52. Academic Press Inc. 2015. p. 1-70. (Advances in Experimental Social Psychology). https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001
Pyszczynski, Tom ; Solomon, Sheldon ; Greenberg, Jeff L. / Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory : From Genesis to Revelation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 52 Academic Press Inc., 2015. pp. 1-70 (Advances in Experimental Social Psychology).
@inbook{98d485315ed64c36b1b3451f1da0dd53,
title = "Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelation",
abstract = "Terror management theory posits that human awareness of the inevitability of death exerts a profound influence on diverse aspects of human thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior. People manage the potential for anxiety that results from this awareness by maintaining: (1) faith in the absolute validity of their cultural worldviews and (2) self-esteem by living up to the standards of value that are part of their worldviews. In this chapter, we take stock of the past 30 years of research and conceptual development inspired by this theory. After a brief review of evidence supporting the theory's fundamental propositions, we discuss extensions of the theory to shed light on: (1) the psychological mechanisms through which thoughts of death affect subsequent thought and behavior; (2) how the anxiety-buffering systems develop over childhood and beyond; (3) how awareness of death influenced the evolution of mind, culture, morality, and religion; (4) how death concerns lead people to distance from their physical bodies and seek solace in concepts of mind and spirit; and (5) the role of death concerns in maladaptive and pathological behavior. We also consider various criticisms of the theory and alternative conceptualizations that have been proposed. We conclude with a discussion of what we view as the most pressing issues for further research and theory development that have been inspired by the theory's first 30 years.",
keywords = "Attachment evolution, Culture, Death, Existential psychology, Meaning, Morality, Mortality salience, Self-esteem, Terror management theory",
author = "Tom Pyszczynski and Sheldon Solomon and Greenberg, {Jeff L}",
year = "2015",
doi = "10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001",
language = "English (US)",
isbn = "9780128022474",
volume = "52",
series = "Advances in Experimental Social Psychology",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
pages = "1--70",
booktitle = "Advances in Experimental Social Psychology",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - Thirty Years of Terror Management Theory

T2 - From Genesis to Revelation

AU - Pyszczynski, Tom

AU - Solomon, Sheldon

AU - Greenberg, Jeff L

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - Terror management theory posits that human awareness of the inevitability of death exerts a profound influence on diverse aspects of human thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior. People manage the potential for anxiety that results from this awareness by maintaining: (1) faith in the absolute validity of their cultural worldviews and (2) self-esteem by living up to the standards of value that are part of their worldviews. In this chapter, we take stock of the past 30 years of research and conceptual development inspired by this theory. After a brief review of evidence supporting the theory's fundamental propositions, we discuss extensions of the theory to shed light on: (1) the psychological mechanisms through which thoughts of death affect subsequent thought and behavior; (2) how the anxiety-buffering systems develop over childhood and beyond; (3) how awareness of death influenced the evolution of mind, culture, morality, and religion; (4) how death concerns lead people to distance from their physical bodies and seek solace in concepts of mind and spirit; and (5) the role of death concerns in maladaptive and pathological behavior. We also consider various criticisms of the theory and alternative conceptualizations that have been proposed. We conclude with a discussion of what we view as the most pressing issues for further research and theory development that have been inspired by the theory's first 30 years.

AB - Terror management theory posits that human awareness of the inevitability of death exerts a profound influence on diverse aspects of human thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior. People manage the potential for anxiety that results from this awareness by maintaining: (1) faith in the absolute validity of their cultural worldviews and (2) self-esteem by living up to the standards of value that are part of their worldviews. In this chapter, we take stock of the past 30 years of research and conceptual development inspired by this theory. After a brief review of evidence supporting the theory's fundamental propositions, we discuss extensions of the theory to shed light on: (1) the psychological mechanisms through which thoughts of death affect subsequent thought and behavior; (2) how the anxiety-buffering systems develop over childhood and beyond; (3) how awareness of death influenced the evolution of mind, culture, morality, and religion; (4) how death concerns lead people to distance from their physical bodies and seek solace in concepts of mind and spirit; and (5) the role of death concerns in maladaptive and pathological behavior. We also consider various criticisms of the theory and alternative conceptualizations that have been proposed. We conclude with a discussion of what we view as the most pressing issues for further research and theory development that have been inspired by the theory's first 30 years.

KW - Attachment evolution

KW - Culture

KW - Death

KW - Existential psychology

KW - Meaning

KW - Morality

KW - Mortality salience

KW - Self-esteem

KW - Terror management theory

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84949641957&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84949641957&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001

DO - 10.1016/bs.aesp.2015.03.001

M3 - Chapter

AN - SCOPUS:84949641957

SN - 9780128022474

VL - 52

T3 - Advances in Experimental Social Psychology

SP - 1

EP - 70

BT - Advances in Experimental Social Psychology

PB - Academic Press Inc.

ER -