Introducing science to the psychology of the soul: Experimental existential psychology

Sander L. Koole, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Humans live out their lives knowing that their own death is inevitable; that their most cherished beliefs and values, and even their own identities, are uncertain; that they face a bewildering array of choices; and that their private subjective experiences can never be shared with another human being. This knowledge creates five major existential concerns: death, isolation, identity, freedom, and meaning. The role of these concerns in human affairs has traditionally been the purview of philosophy. However, recent methodological and conceptual advances have led to the emergence of an experimental existential psychology directed toward empirically investigating the roles that these concerns play in psychological functioning. This new domain of psychological science has revealed the pervasive influence of deep existential concerns on diverse aspects of human thought and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-216
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Death
  • Freedom
  • Identity
  • Isolation
  • Meaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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