A terror management perspective on the creation and defense of meaning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


There are at least two forms of meaning that people seek: everyday meaning, which involves structuring the environment into a series of recursive patterns and expectancies, and ultimate meaning, which involves imbuing one's life with a sense of cosmic purpose. Terror management theory, rooted in the ideas of Ernest Becker, is better suited than other motivational accounts to explain why humans pursue ultimate meaning. According to the theory, people's awareness of their impending death compels them to attain ultimate meaning, because only if the self is seen as having a transcendent purpose can it be seen as in some sense immortal. The authors review a variety of experimental findings derived from TMT suggesting that the potential for death-related anxiety causes people to create and defend sources of both everyday and ultimate meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Experience of Meaning in Life
Subtitle of host publicationClassical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789400765276
ISBN (Print)9400765266, 9789400765269
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'A terror management perspective on the creation and defense of meaning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this