Terror Management Theory

Terror management theory was inspired by the writings of Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker. The theory posits that in an animal with a biologically based predisposition to live, knowledge of the inevitability of death creates potentially paralyzing anxiety. To manage this potential anxiety, people psychologically invest in a cultural worldview; that is, conceptions of reality shared by groups of people. Cultural worldviews help to minimize concerns about death by imbuing the world with a sense of meaning, order, and permanence, and by providing standards of value that when fulfilled provide a sense of self-worth and symbolic if not literal immortality. But because cultural worldviews are social constructions that are maintained through a process of social consensus, people who believe differently can be especially threatening. ...

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