Perceived Similarity of the Self to Animals, Creativity, and Anxiety—: A Terror Management Analysis

  • Uri Lifshin (Creator)
  • Jeff L Greenberg (Creator)
  • Stylianos Syropoulos (Creator)
  • Bernhard Leidner (Creator)
  • Peter Helm (Creator)
  • Daniel L Sullivan (Creator)
  • Dylan E. Horner (Creator)
  • Mario Mikulincer (Creator)



According to terror management theory, humans avoid death anxiety by embedding themselves within cultural worldviews that allow them to perceive themselves as more than mortal animals. However, individuals also differ in their trait-like tendency to dissociate from other animals. In six studies, we tested whether individuals who perceive themselves as more similar to animals (high-perceived similarity of the self to animals [PSSA]) invest more in creativity for terror management than low-PSSA individuals, but are also more vulnerable to experiencing anxiety and existential concerns. Supporting our hypotheses, PSSA was associated with investment in creativity and arts, especially after death primes (Studies 3 and 4). High-PSSA individuals had heightened trait anxiety and death-thought accessibility (Studies 5 and 6), and showed increased state anxiety following a negative feedback about their creativity (Study 6). Findings highlight the role of PSSA as a personality variable predicting human motivation and emotion.
Date made available2021
PublisherSAGE Journals

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