Terror Management Theory
What Is Terror Management Theory?
Terror management theory (TMT) attempts to explain a type of defensive human thinking and behavior that stems from our awareness and fear of death. According to TMT, death anxiety drives us to adopt worldviews that protect our sense of self-esteem, worthiness and sustainability and allow us to believe that we play an important role in a meaningful world. Our survival instincts, and the need to reinforce our cultural significance in the face of death, often result in displays of prejudice, or the belief that the group with which we identify is superior to other groups. In this way, we confirm our self-importance and insulate ourselves from our deep fear of merely living an insignificant life permanently eradicated by death. TMT proposes that we are motivated to develop close relationships within our own cultural group in order to feel immortal, to convince ourselves that we will somehow live on—if only symbolically—after our inevitable death.