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Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(4), 1020-1045; doi:10.3390/socsci4041020

An Appreciative View of the Brighter Side of Terror Management Processes

1
Department of Psychology, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Ave. CB103, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA
2
School of Psychology, University of Southampton, University Rd, Southampton SO17-1BJ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Steve Fuller and Emilie Whitaker
Received: 11 August 2015 / Revised: 24 September 2015 / Accepted: 14 October 2015 / Published: 30 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Beyond the Negativity of Death: Towards a New Necropolitics)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [254 KB, uploaded 30 October 2015]

Abstract

Physical death is an inevitable part of life. From the perspective of terror management theory (TMT), people’s efforts to manage the awareness of death can sometimes have harmful social consequences. However, those negative consequences are merely one side of the existential coin. In considering the other side of the coin, the present article highlights the more beneficial trajectories of the terror management process. For example, the awareness of mortality can motivate people to prioritize their physical health; uphold prosocial values; build loving relationships and peaceful, charitable communities; and foster open-mindedness. Further, the article explores the possible balance between defense and growth motivations, including the motivations toward integrative self-expansion, creativity, and well-being. And finally, we tentatively consider the potential positive impacts of direct confrontations with mortality on terror management processes. In sum, the present analysis suggests that although death awareness can sometimes produce some harmful outcomes, at least under certain conditions it can also motivate attitudes and behaviors that have positive personal and social consequences. View Full-Text
Keywords: terror management theory; mortality salience; defense; positive psychology; growth; motivation terror management theory; mortality salience; defense; positive psychology; growth; motivation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Vail, III, K.E.; Juhl, J. An Appreciative View of the Brighter Side of Terror Management Processes. Soc. Sci. 2015, 4, 1020-1045.

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