Windows into nothingness: Terror management, meaninglessness, and negative reactions to modern art

Mark J. Landau, Jeff L Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, Tom Pyszczynski, Andy Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

120 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Why do people dislike art that they find meaningless? According to terror management theory, maintaining a basic meaningful view of reality is a key prerequisite for managing concerns about mortality. Therefore, mortality salience should decrease liking for apparently meaningless art, particularly among those predisposed to unambiguous knowledge. Accordingly, mortality salience diminished affection for modern art in Study 1, and this effect was shown in Study 2 to be specific to individuals with a high personal need for structure (PNS). In Studies 3 and 4, mortality salient high-PNS participants disliked modern art unless it was imbued with meaning, either by means of a title or a personal frame of reference induction. Discussion focused on the roles of meaninglessness, PNS, and art in terror management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-892
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume90
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

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Art
terrorism
art
mortality
management
Mortality
sympathy
induction

Keywords

  • Aesthetic judgments
  • Art
  • Meaning
  • Need for structure
  • Terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Windows into nothingness : Terror management, meaninglessness, and negative reactions to modern art. / Landau, Mark J.; Greenberg, Jeff L; Solomon, Sheldon; Pyszczynski, Tom; Martens, Andy.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 90, No. 6, 06.2006, p. 879-892.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Landau, Mark J. ; Greenberg, Jeff L ; Solomon, Sheldon ; Pyszczynski, Tom ; Martens, Andy. / Windows into nothingness : Terror management, meaninglessness, and negative reactions to modern art. In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2006 ; Vol. 90, No. 6. pp. 879-892.
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