Terror Management Theory
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAccording to Terror Management Theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) a key function of cultural worldviews is facilitating people's belief that they are different from animals and therefore more than physical creatures fated to obliteration upon death. We sought to investigate the relationship between peoples’ perceived similarity to animals (PSA) and their investment in their ingroup cultural-worldviews, creativity and personal achievement, as ways of managing their awareness of death. We focused on four central hypotheses: (1) high faith in cultural worldviews should reduce PSA; (2) people who view themselves less similar to animals (low-PSA) should be more invested in their cultural worldview, especially after death primes; (3) people who view themselves as more similar to animals (high-PSA), should invest more in personal achievement and creativity as a terror management strategy and (4) be more prone to experience anxiety, particularly after a threat to their creativity. Supporting Hypotheses 1 and 2 we found that: validation of cultural worldviews reduces PSA (Study 1); low-PSA individuals cared more about their ingroup identity and worldviews and perceived other cultures as more different (Studies 2a-2b); after death primes low-PSA individuals defended their groups' cultural worldview more (Studies 3-4), and liked people from other cultures less (Studies 5-6). Hypothesis 3 was partially supported: PSA was positively correlated to importance of creativity, openness and performance on a creativity task (Studies 7, 9 and 10), but it was not correlated with self-reported or projected need for achievement (Studies 7 and 8), or with creative story writing (Studies 8). Hypothesis 4 was also partially supported: PSA was positively related to trait-anxiety (Study 9), and to levels of death thought accessibility (Study 10), and high-PSA individuals experienced more anxiety after receiving negative feedback about their creativity (Study 10). The implications these findings to the field of social psychology are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College