A Terror Management Perspective on the Role of Death-Related Anxiety in Psychological Dysfunction

Molly Maxfield, Samantha John, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Building on previous existential theorizing, terror management theory provides a unique approach to conceptualizing the development, maintenance, and impact of psychological disorders. The theory suggests that awareness of mortality creates the potential for anxiety, which is managed by an anxiety-buffering system consisting of one's cultural worldview, self-esteem, and interpersonal attachments. The pursuit of meaning, personal value, and interpersonal connections that motivates much human behavior is driven, in part, by the need to control this potential for death-related anxiety. This article provides an overview of terror management theory and a discussion of its implications for understanding clinical conditions, along with a review of research exploring the roles of death-related anxiety and the anxiety-buffering system in anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalHumanistic Psychologist
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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