Toward a comprehensive understanding of existential threat: Insights from paul tillich

Daniel L Sullivan, Mark J. Landau, Aaron C. Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Experimental existential psychology (XXP) empirically investigates how people's motives for meaning and personal value influence their lives, and how symbolic self-awareness undergirds these motives and experienced threats to their fulfillment. The authors attempt to synthesize the insights that have already accumulated from XXP, and simultaneously point to a new direction for this field. Researchers have debated whether there is a "core threat" in human experience, but the authors propose that a more fruitful direction for research is to examine the simultaneous independence and interdependence of different existential threats. Paul Tillich's (1952) theory of existential threat is put forward as one model for understanding how a core threat to non-being (mortality) can nevertheless be experienced in proximally different forms, in terms of anxieties about meaninglessness or condemnation of the self. In addition to presenting Tillich's theory, the authors make several concrete suggestions for how future research in XXP should proceed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-757
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Existentialism
Experimental Psychology
Ego
Anxiety
Research Personnel
Mortality
Research
Direction compound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Toward a comprehensive understanding of existential threat : Insights from paul tillich. / Sullivan, Daniel L; Landau, Mark J.; Kay, Aaron C.

In: Social Cognition, Vol. 30, No. 6, 2012, p. 734-757.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{569877d1b6174252b9cbda49f771093c,
title = "Toward a comprehensive understanding of existential threat: Insights from paul tillich",
abstract = "Experimental existential psychology (XXP) empirically investigates how people's motives for meaning and personal value influence their lives, and how symbolic self-awareness undergirds these motives and experienced threats to their fulfillment. The authors attempt to synthesize the insights that have already accumulated from XXP, and simultaneously point to a new direction for this field. Researchers have debated whether there is a {"}core threat{"} in human experience, but the authors propose that a more fruitful direction for research is to examine the simultaneous independence and interdependence of different existential threats. Paul Tillich's (1952) theory of existential threat is put forward as one model for understanding how a core threat to non-being (mortality) can nevertheless be experienced in proximally different forms, in terms of anxieties about meaninglessness or condemnation of the self. In addition to presenting Tillich's theory, the authors make several concrete suggestions for how future research in XXP should proceed.",
author = "Sullivan, {Daniel L} and Landau, {Mark J.} and Kay, {Aaron C.}",
year = "2012",
doi = "10.1521/soco.2012.30.6.734",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "30",
pages = "734--757",
journal = "Social Cognition",
issn = "0278-016X",
publisher = "Guilford Publications",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Toward a comprehensive understanding of existential threat

T2 - Insights from paul tillich

AU - Sullivan, Daniel L

AU - Landau, Mark J.

AU - Kay, Aaron C.

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - Experimental existential psychology (XXP) empirically investigates how people's motives for meaning and personal value influence their lives, and how symbolic self-awareness undergirds these motives and experienced threats to their fulfillment. The authors attempt to synthesize the insights that have already accumulated from XXP, and simultaneously point to a new direction for this field. Researchers have debated whether there is a "core threat" in human experience, but the authors propose that a more fruitful direction for research is to examine the simultaneous independence and interdependence of different existential threats. Paul Tillich's (1952) theory of existential threat is put forward as one model for understanding how a core threat to non-being (mortality) can nevertheless be experienced in proximally different forms, in terms of anxieties about meaninglessness or condemnation of the self. In addition to presenting Tillich's theory, the authors make several concrete suggestions for how future research in XXP should proceed.

AB - Experimental existential psychology (XXP) empirically investigates how people's motives for meaning and personal value influence their lives, and how symbolic self-awareness undergirds these motives and experienced threats to their fulfillment. The authors attempt to synthesize the insights that have already accumulated from XXP, and simultaneously point to a new direction for this field. Researchers have debated whether there is a "core threat" in human experience, but the authors propose that a more fruitful direction for research is to examine the simultaneous independence and interdependence of different existential threats. Paul Tillich's (1952) theory of existential threat is put forward as one model for understanding how a core threat to non-being (mortality) can nevertheless be experienced in proximally different forms, in terms of anxieties about meaninglessness or condemnation of the self. In addition to presenting Tillich's theory, the authors make several concrete suggestions for how future research in XXP should proceed.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84872515836&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84872515836&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1521/soco.2012.30.6.734

DO - 10.1521/soco.2012.30.6.734

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84872515836

VL - 30

SP - 734

EP - 757

JO - Social Cognition

JF - Social Cognition

SN - 0278-016X

IS - 6

ER -