Dwelling forever in the house of the lord: on the terror management function of religion

Jeff Greenberg, Peter J. Helm, Mark J. Landau, Sheldon Solomon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


A critical function of religion is to manage the potential for terror inherent in living knowing the only certainty in one’s life is the knowledge that it will inevitably end. We first provide an overview of this terror management theory (TMT) account of religion. We discuss how children are socialized into faith in worldviews that allow them to believe they are significant contributors to a meaningful life. We consider how religious worldviews emerged and evolved over human history. We then briefly review empirical support for TMT in general and specifically as an explanation of faith in religions. We cover evidence that religiosity reduces death anxiety, that reminders of mortality increase investment in religion, and that religiosity reduces defensive responses to reminders of mortality. We conclude by considering TMT insights into the constructive and destructive influences of two kinds of religious worldviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780128172049
ISBN (Print)9780128172056
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • death anxiety
  • immortality
  • mortality salience
  • religiosity
  • Terror management theory
  • worldviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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