Terror Management Theory

Terror Management Theory

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Terror Management Theory

Based to the social psychology, Terror Management Theory states that there is a psychological conflict in animals cognitive that is a result of having self-preservation instinct and the realization that death is to an extent unpredictable as well as unavoidable. The fact is animals, and primarily people fear demise as well as other variables that postulate suffering and pain in their bodies. With regards to the study one done before, mortality salience, dental pain and college are the independent variables put in consideration in understanding the Terror Management Theory. The Terror Management Theory correctly explains the mortality salience as a stimulant of social and psychological anxiety that might be derived from the person’s sense of self-esteem as well as the cultural view of nature. In this paper, a literature review of the Terror Management Theory is provided with regards to the variables discussed in the past study which includes mortality salience, dental pain, and college.

According to the results and findings of the past research done regarding Terror Management Theory, it is true that a significant number of people fear death and they consider it as an inevitable role of nature that each animal must undergo. Their act of using word fragments such as “SKU” standing for the skull and “DED” signifying dead shows the eminent fear they have on death and their awareness to mortality salience. The words related to death were the most shocking in consideration of the interviewed subjects of matter as the respondents could comfortably spell in full the words regarding dental pain and college. Mortality salience explains that dying is a fact even though people and other animals try to avoid every situation that endangers their life and keep them in the death risk. The act of the interview respondents recalling the first interviewed section without alteration of the answers signified that they paid attention to what they talked about and have a clear understanding of mortality salience, college, and dental pain.

In understanding Terror Management Theory, Ernest Becker postulates that fear of demise plays a part in many people character and aspects of human conduct as well as thought. He supports the Terror Management Theory suggestion that people use self-esteem and takes cultural knowhow to safeguard their awareness of death as an inevitable circumstance. According to Becker’s research, the results and findings show that after people are reminded of the mystery nature of death, they strengthen their cultural worldview and work an extra mile to have self-confidence. In carrying the research, Becker involved intergroup conflict, religious beliefs, and brain imagining as well as psychological disorders (Ayars et al. 2015).People imagine bout the fatal condition of death imposing great terror in their life and many lives in ways that are safe to their health to avoid the immense situation mortality.

The religious beliefs play a significant role in building self-esteem to the followers and also adequately give them hopes of eternal life after death to cease the fear. Many religious scripts are talking about death and mostly refers to it as a state of natural resting and the internal soul joining other spiritual beings where they could live forever. Lack of self-confidence and natural, cultural view of mortality salience may result to psychological disorders where the victims significantly suffer from fear and may lead to avoidance of various necessary things in life which they consider to as life-threatening. For example, one may experience suspicion of driving or living in apartments as they at all time think of death (Greenberg et al. 2017).

With regards to a Terror Management Theory of Social Behavior journal, it postulates that the theory tries to provide an understanding of the social behavior by putting in consideration of the human and animals necessary being and circumstances. The Terror Management Theory put it clear that human motivation is in due course originates from the biological aspects based on the preservation instinct. Significantly it is through the existence of the realities culture maintenance and creation that the fear of death is minimized through the providence of the symbolic context that infuses the world with meaning, continuity, and order as well as constancy. The theory provides a theoretical connection in the middle of superficially distinct utilitarian areas as well as focusing on the specific motivation that makes it human and unluckily disparaging. According to the author of this journal, the Terror Management Theory serves an important purpose that is focused towards improving the understanding and thinking about the discipline’s subject of matter which is mortality salience (Solomon, et at. 1991). The analysis of social behavior in regards to Terror Management Theory signifies that it is through self-preservation motives the people living with hopes of achieving great things without the terror of death. Relieving anxiety of the uncontrollable roles of nature is essential and sound to human development.

Putting in consideration of the dental pain as one of the independent variable used during the research to understand the Terror Management Theory, people are indeed open regarding its related subjects. The study one carried there before postulated that people fear toothaches and those that had experience did not have the will of being in such an experience again. According to the Terror Management Theory, self-cognitive is the appropriate measure of ceasing the terror in the human life. It involves of taking precautions of avoiding instances of dental disorders such as tooth decay and hence escape from the painful process dental infections that many fear (Wiederhold et al. 2014). For example, with relevance to the article regarding clinical practice of virtual reality distraction technique to relieve pain and anxiety in dental procedures, application of the method has increased clinical population and eased the dental procedures.

Fear is a psychological trauma that affects human being which can be either due to the experience or what they thought of various conditions. The author of this article examines the use of virtual reality as a method of distraction for patients suffering dental disorders by the application of both objective and subjective techniques on how Virtual Reality affects patients who underwent pain, anxiety as well as other physiological factors. The research has shown that the favorable independent and impartial replies propose that Virtual Reality distraction methods significantly lessen uneasiness and pain for patients with trivial to modest terror and anxiety.

In consideration of the article by Megan-Jane Johnstone, Solomon, the Terror Management Theory is related to the cultural differences, bioethics and the problem of moral disagreement at the end of life care. The above variable is considered as the primary cause of terror in human life that are put to the same level as the morality salience in threatening peoples’ well-being. The author suggests that the cultural considerations that are significant at the end of life care are misinterpreted, poorly resourced as well as guided in the health maintenance perspective. However, in recent years there has been extra efforts on making policy commitments to the patients. The policy is based on the patients’ care as well as respecting their alternatives as they are the people whose marginal cultural worldviews do not go in hand with the wide view of the conservative ideologies of western culture bioethics (Johnstone, 2012). They at daily bases faces struggle in meeting patient’s care and ensuring meaningful, safe and effective healing way. The author of the article gives particular attention in exploring why cultural differences are there up to date, why they affect people and how the health physicians should offer their treatment to reduce the instances and effects of the preventable ethical results at the end of life care. In this novel, the Terror Management Theory is applied in explanation of how the patients can be relieved from the anxiety, for example with the dental pain.

Paul T. P. Wong’s book “Existential and Spiritual Issues in Death Attitudes” significantly apply reference of the Terror Management Theory in the chapter meaning of management theory and death acceptance. Wong provides a case study of being on a train which has lost control and destined to end in a deadly crash. There is no exit out, and there is no any possible way of slowing its speed as well as changing the track. The questions are how one would cope with it as a passenger. Among the ideas that would ease person’s anxiety towards death and whether death renunciation would help in such a case as well as the illusions. Every human being can be challenged in such a situation, and the overall result is terror and anxiety of death. The Terror Management Theory through the mortality salience at this incidence works it part best as one has to understand the death is inevitable when the time comes. Furthermore, there should be an understanding that nature plays it roles well in all the situations and it is possible of getting out of the out of control train healthy and evade the demise. The book significantly supports the Terror Management Theory encouraging people to have healthy self-confidence as well as cultural and religious beliefs that helps in fighting the anxiety and fear of the natural occurrences.

According to Michael Hviid Jacobsen, Terror Management Theory regards the survival of the living organisms as they are biologically predisposed to survive through avoidance of things that can cause death as much as possible. Human beings are the animals with cognition, and they know that they will in one instance die no matter what. Therefore, it is not sufficient to avert death through the temporary measure as instead, people should seek a solution to the certain natural condition through seeking the consolation of techniques of feeling themselves as immortal beings. The optimistic cultural beliefs give hopes of their possibility of having a life after death and this significant relief the terror of mortality salience.

As discussed above, the Terror Management Theory plays a significant role in reducing the fear and anxiety of death as well as pain. Mortality salience significantly shapes the behavior and character of many people strengthening their self-esteem and cultural beliefs to seek immortal intervention. The theory is essential in giving letting the human being accept about nature and what is out of control of their hands. The research done during the study one signifies that high percentage of human being believes that death is natural and unpredictable.


Ayars, A., Lifshin, U., & Greenberg, J. (2015). Terror Management Theory. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource.

Davis, D., Soref, A., Villalobos, J. G., & Mikulincer, M. (2016). Priming states of mind can affect disclosure of threatening self-information: Effects of self-affirmation, mortality salience, and attachment orientations. Law and human behavior, 40(4), 351.

Greenberg, J., Helm, P. J., & Lifshin, U. (2017). Terror management theory: Surviving the awareness of death one way or another. In Postmortal Society (pp. 79-96). Routledge.

Greenberg, J., Vail, K., & Pyszczynski, T. (2014). Terror management theory and research: How the desire for death transcendence drives our strivings for meaning and significance. In Advances in motivation science (Vol. 1, pp. 85-134). Elsevier.

Johnstone, M. J. (2012, April). Bioethics, cultural differences and the problem of moral disagreements in end-of-life care: a terror management theory. In The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine (Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 181-200). Oxford University Press.

Lewis, A. M. (2014). Terror management theory applied clinically: implications for existential-integrative psychotherapy. Death studies, 38(6), 412-417.

Maskaly, J., & Donner, C. M. (2015). A theoretical integration of social learning theory with terror management theory: Towards an explanation of police shootings of unarmed suspects. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(2), 205-224.

Shaver, P. R., & Mikulincer, M. E. (2012). Meaning, mortality, and choice: The social psychology of existential concerns. American Psychological Association.

Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (1991). A terror management theory of social behavior: The psychological functions of self-esteem and cultural worldviews. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 24, pp. 93-159). Academic Press.

Wiederhold, M. D., Gao, K., & Wiederhold, B. K. (2014). Clinical use of virtual reality distraction system to reduce anxiety and pain in dental procedures. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(6), 359-365.

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