Jeff Greenberg's research while affiliated with The University of Arizona and other places

Publications (251)

Article
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This pre-registered work was designed to replicate and extend previous research finding that autonomy is associated with greater extent of belief in symbolic immortality (feeling that some aspect of an individual will endure and/or be remembered long after death). Study 1 (n = 1185) replicated this prior work, finding that self-reported autonomy pr...
Article
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According to terror management theory, humans rely on meaningful and permanence-promising cultural worldviews, like religion, to manage mortality concerns. Prior research indicates that, compared to religious individuals, atheists experience lower levels of meaning in life following reminders of death. The present study investigated whether reminde...
Technical Report
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لم يبدأ الباحثون حتى أوائل الخمسينيات من القرن الماضي في الحصول على أدلة كمية تتعلق بالحاجة إلى احترام الذات. منذ ذلك الحين، أظهرت الأبحاث في علم النفس المرضي أن تدني احترام الذات يرتبط بمجموعة متنوعة من المشكلات النفسية، بما في ذلك إدمان الكحول والقلق. الاكتئاب والعصابية والفصام (انظر ويلي، 1979، للمراجعة). تشير هذه النتائج إلى أن الناس بحاجة إلى...
Article
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The current investigation tested if people's basic belief in the notion that human beings have developed from other animals (i.e., belief in evolution) can predict human-to-human prejudice and intergroup hostility. Using data from the American General Social Survey and Pew Research Center (Studies 1-4), and from three online samples (Studies 5, 7,...
Article
Mystical-type experiences (MTEs) are unique phenomenological experiences that are often reported to induce significant and persisting changes in the experiencer's worldview. Previous research suggests that higher levels of existential isolation (EI) are associated with lower levels of meaning in life (MIL). This study examines the hypothesis that p...
Chapter
In this chapter, we utilize terror management theory to explain what self-esteem is, how the need for self-esteem develops, how people attain and maintain self-esteem, and why self-esteem is so important for psychological well-being. Then we briefly review empirical evidence supporting these ideas. First, we review evidence that reminders of death...
Article
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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...
Article
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Self-compassion is a positive psychological construct associated with heightened well-being, but the construct is largely measured via self-report. In a study of divorcing adults ( N = 120), we sought to replicate and extend prior research on the association between self-rated and observed self-compassion, the linguistic cues associated with self-r...
Article
Objective This pre-registered study was designed to test whether reminders of death and coronavirus would have similar or different effects on health behavior intentions concerning COVID-19 (e.g., mask wearing, social distancing) and whether the type of framing of these behaviors would moderate these effects. Design The study utilized a 3 (threat:...
Article
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Terror Management Theory (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) defines self-esteem as the feeling that one is living up to the standards of their internalized cultural worldview and is consequently worthy of the symbolic and/or literal modes of death transcendence offered by that worldview. Although there is ample evidence for the death-anxiety...
Article
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Using terror management theory and research findings, we expand the framework provided by Lee and Schwarz to highlight the potential link between separation and connection effects to existential, death-related concerns. Specifically, we address how death awareness may motivate separation and connection behaviors and how engaging in these behaviors...
Article
The present work built on self-determination theory, terror management theory, and related existential and humanistic perspectives to test the mediating role of symbolic immortality in the association between autonomy and meaning in life. In two samples (Sample 1, n = 1,414; Sample 2, n = 882), autonomy was significantly associated with symbolic im...
Article
We tested the hypothesis that if indefinite life extension (ILE) through medical technologies were to become a reality, then people may become harsher in their judgment of social transgressors. In support of this hypothesis, we found that higher positive attitudes towards ILE technologies related to harshness in judgment of social transgressions (S...
Chapter
Age-related changes in health require constant adaptation and culminate in the final challenge of aging—death and the dying process. This chapter focuses on psychological aspects of death and dying, with an emphasis on the experiences, perspectives, and needs of older adults. Research concerning age-related differences in response to mortality is r...
Article
Objective: To examine whether demographic, dementia-related, and control-related variables predict preparation for future care needs (PFCN) in a sample of middle-aged and older adults. PFCN is defined in this study as a self-perceived sense of preparedness for one's own future care needs, including general awareness of future care needs, gathering...
Article
Terror Management Theory (TMT; Greenberg et al., 1986) is a social psychological theory that examines the role of death awareness in human behavior. TMT examines the roles of self‐esteem and cultural worldviews in buffering humans against the threat of mortality. This entry describes the theory, major hypotheses, and individual differences in respo...
Chapter
Terror Management Theory (TMT; Greenberg et al., 1986) is a social psychological theory that examines the role of death awareness in human behavior. TMT examines the roles of self‐esteem and cultural worldviews in buffering humans against the threat of mortality. This entry describes the theory, major hypotheses, and individual differences in respo...
Article
Introduction: The relationships between loneliness, depression, and suicide ideation have been well established in the literature. Yet almost no research has examined how feelings of existential isolation (EI; Yalom, 1980), a form of interpersonal isolation conceptually similar, but distinct from loneliness, relates to depressive symptomology or su...
Article
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Terror management theory is focused on the role that awareness of death plays in diverse aspects of life. Here, we discuss the theory’s implications for understanding the widely varying ways in which people have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. We argue that regardless of whether one consciously believes that the virus is a major threat to life...
Article
This research explored the relationship between the death of a close other (DOCO) and terror management processes. In Study 1 (n = 810), university students who experienced DOCO (vs. not) reported higher university and American identification; greater self-esteem and meaning in life; lower death-thought accessibility; greater "death-as-passage" rep...
Article
Heightened awareness and perceived negativity of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) may increase health-related concerns about developing ADRD, also called dementia-related anxiety. Anticipating greater levels of ADRD stigma was expected to be associated with greater dementia-related anxiety. Middle-aged and older adults ( N = 183, ag...
Article
This research examines how existential isolation (EI) relates to dimensions of relational attachment. Drawing upon previous research examining the relationship between loneliness and attachment, as well as theorizing in the state-trait EI model, we predicted that EI would be positively associated with insecure attachment, but more associated with a...
Article
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Human existence is characterized by some rather unique psychological challenges. Because people can reflect on their lives and place in the world, they are regularly confronted with a variety of existential concerns: death and mortality; the burdens of freedom; uncertainty regarding one's identity; isolation from others; and indeterminate meaning i...
Chapter
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 be...
Chapter
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In this chapter we reflect on how Mary Midgley’s views on the human-animal relationship relate to new directions in social psychology on attitudes towards animals as well as human outgroups. We present new research guided by terror management theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986), which focuses on how the human concern with mortalit...
Article
Three studies examined how existential isolation (EI) relates to death-thought accessibility (DTA). Drawing upon the state-trait EI model and terror management theory, we posited EI would be associated with greater DTA. Studies 1a and 1b found trait EI to be correlated with baseline DTA. Evidence for mediation by ingroup identity was mixed. Studies...
Article
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Efforts are being made in the field of medicine to promote the possibility of indefinite life extension (ILE). Past research on attitudes toward ILE technologies showed that women and more religious individuals usually have more negative attitudes toward ILE. The purpose of this research was to investigate whether gender differences in attitude tow...
Chapter
Frankenstein portrays one modern way people have tried to transcend death. We present Terror Management Theory (Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986), which describes a number of ways in which people gain a sense of such transcendence and psychological protection from death. We then provide an overview of research on the conventional types of im...
Article
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Prior research shows that the correlation between religiosity and support for animal rights can be positive, negative, or zero. We hypothesized that this relationship may actually be curvilinear, where a moderate degree of religiosity may reduce support for killing animals (compared with non-religiosity or atheism), but a very high degree of religi...
Article
Existential isolation (EI) is the subjective experience of feeling fundamentally separate from other human beings. Recent studies examining EI have observed a consistent sex difference wherein men report higher levels of EI than women. Our first study used a large undergraduate survey. It replicated the sex difference in EI and showed that controll...
Article
Terror management theory and research indicate that humans cope with concerns about mortality by believing we are more than nonhuman animals. The current studies investigated whether this motivation plays a role in believing humans are more intelligent than other animals. Study 1 had participants think about mortality or another unpleasant topic. T...
Chapter
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This chapter views moral values and behavior from the framework of terror management theory (Greenberg, Solomon, & Pyszczynski, 1986; Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991, 2015). From a terror management theory perspective, individuals care about living up to moral values because doing so enables them to view themselves as enduring, significant...
Article
We tested predictions about religiosity and terror management processes in 16 nations. Specifically, we examined weekly variation in Google search volume in each nation for 12 years (all weeks for which data were available). In all 16 nations, higher than usual weekly Google search volume for life-threatening illnesses (cancer, diabetes, and hypert...
Method
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Supplementary materials for: The Evil Animal: A Terror Management Theory Perspective on the Human Tendency to Kill Animals (Lifshin et al., 2017, PSPB). Includes different measures of support for killing animals.
Article
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This research tested whether support for the killing of animals serves a terror management function. In five studies, death primes caused participants to support the killing of animals more than control primes, unless the participants’ self-esteem had been elevated (Study 4). This effect was not moderated by gender, preexisting attitudes toward kil...
Article
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Strides are being made in medicine toward the possibility of indefinite life extension (ILE). Research shows that people cope with the prospect of mortality with various ways to feel transcendent of death, including investing in religion and afterlife beliefs. But how would these investments be affected by the possibility of ILE through medical sci...
Method
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Fake articles supporting or arguing against the possibility of indefinite life extension through medical technologies. Supplementary materials from: Lifshin, U., Greenberg, J., Soenke, M., Darrel, A., & Pyszczynski T. (2018). Mortality salience, religiosity, and indefinite life extension: Evidence of a reciprocal relationship between afterlife bel...
Article
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The death of a close other (DOCO) is perhaps the most difficult experience that people endure. According to terror management theory (TMT), people manage the potentially terrorizing awareness of their mortality by immersing in cultural worldviews that allow them to feel like valuable members of a meaningful universe who may have some existence or t...
Article
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This research applied insights from terror management theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) to the world of sport. According to TMT, self-esteem buffers against the potential for death anxiety. Because sport allows people to attain self-esteem, reminders of death may improve performance in sport. In Study 1, a mortality salience ind...
Article
According to terror management theory, awareness of death affects diverse aspects of human thought and behavior. Studies have shown that older and younger adults differ in how they respond to reminders of their mortality. The present study investigated one hypothesized explanation for these findings: Age-related differences in the tendency to make...
Article
Five studies tested the effects that soul beliefs have on reactions to end-of-the-world scenarios. In Studies 1 and 2, participants who firmly believe in an immortal soul showed less resistance to an article predicting the end of humanity than those without such belief. However, in Studies 3 to 5, thoughts of symbolic immortality made soul believer...
Chapter
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Terror management theory posits that human awareness of the inevitability of death exerts a profound influence on diverse aspects of human thought, emotion, motivation, and behavior. People manage the potential for anxiety that results from this awareness by maintaining: (1) faith in the absolute validity of their cultural worldviews and (2) self-e...
Article
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Since Brehm first proposed reactance theory in 1966, many studies have explored the remarkable psychological phenomenon of reactance, which Miron and Brehm reviewed in 2006. We present an overview of research that has been done since then. A variety of studies have provided interesting new insights into the theory, adding to what is known about the...
Article
Kalisch, Müller, and Tüscher’s PASTOR model synthesizes current knowledge of resilience, focusing on mechanisms as a common pathway to outcomes, and highlighting neuroscience as a method for exploring this. We propose the model broaden its definition of resiliency to include positive indices of recovery, and include positive affect as a mechanism,...
Chapter
Terror management theory (TMT), based on the works of Ernest Becker, asserts that the fear of death contributes to many aspects of human thought and behavior. According to TMT, people use self-esteem and cultural worldviews to buffer awareness of death. In this short review paper we review fundamental research in TMT, including the findings that af...
Article
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According to terror management theory, people are motivated to protect themselves from the potential for anxiety resulting from awareness of mortality. It was hypothesized that increased concern for future generations, and the symbolic immortality this produces, may be particularly important to older adults when awareness of their mortality is incr...
Article
Research shows many effects of reminding people of their mortality; however, little is known about whether people recall the moment they first realized they will die, or what factors are associated with whether they do. Data from 1,552 undergraduates and a community sample of 149 adults found that about one third of participants reported rememberin...
Article
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 oth...
Article
Terror management theory (TMT) states that mortality salience prompts people to follow cultural standards. But many cultures value both generosity and accumulation of wealth. Combining TMT with the focus theory of normative conduct, we suggest that whether mortality salience encourages generosity or greed depends on the norm(s) salient in the situa...
Article
Four studies were conducted to examine how concerns about mortality contribute to Americans' negative attitudes and behavior toward symbols of Islam. Study 1 found that a subtle reminder of death decreased support for the Ground Zero mosque, and increased the distance from Ground Zero that people felt was appropriate for a mosque to be built. Study...
Chapter
As the volume introduction noted, the threat and occurrence of death are common elements of a wide range of films across eras and genres. While various perspectives can be fruitfully applied to examining death in films, in this chapter we focus on how films illuminate the psychological consequences of the human awareness of death. To do so, we util...
Article
Explores the effects of the human awareness of mortality on physical and mental health. This exploration culminates in an analysis of both the adaptive and the ironic maladaptive consequences of the psychological defenses people use to manage the terror of death. To lay the groundwork for this analysis, the authors begin with an overview of terror...
Article
This chapter provides a brief overview of terror management theory and research. There is discussion on how the structure and content of contemporary Western cultures conspire to reduce the usefulness of the strategies for coping with the inevitability of death that sustain people through the early and middle years of life. Finally, the authors use...
Article
The naturalistic fallacy is the erroneous belief that what is natural is morally acceptable. Two studies assessed whether people commit the naturalistic fallacy by testing whether genetic explanations for killing and male promiscuity, as compared to experiential explanations (i.e., learning/“nurture” explanations) increase acceptance of these behav...
Article
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In previous research, older adults responded to mortality salience (MS) with increased tolerance, whereas younger persons responded with increased punitiveness. One possible explanation for this is that many older adults adapt to challenges of later life, such as the prospect of mortality, by becoming more flexible. Recent studies suggest that posi...
Chapter
Although humans have much more in common with other species than most of us realize or would care to admit, only humans have an abstract conception of who they are and how they fit into the ultimate scheme of things (see e.g., Erchak, 1992). The existence of an abstract conception of self has enormous implications for every aspect of human existenc...
Article
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Fantasies and dreams of flight are ubiquitous across cultures and throughout history and often linked to immortality. A perspective derived from terror management theory holds that flight fantasies are appealing because they suggest transcendence of the limitations of creatureliness and mortality. Five studies established the link between mortality...
Article
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Previous terror management theory research has shown that mortality salience (MS; a death reminder) leads to the derogation of those who are perceived to be threats to or violators of one’s cultural worldview. Immigrants may be viewed as such a threat, but not necessarily to all majority group members of the culture. The studies presented here test...
Article
Terror management theory research has shown that reminders of mortality tend to decrease liking for people who threaten one's worldview. In research, these worldview threats typically come from outgroup members, but they may also come from ingroup members who are negatively characterized. Presumably the negative characteristics of ingroup members t...
Article
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From a terror management theory (TMT) perspective, religion serves to manage the potential terror engendered by the uniquely human awareness of death by affording a sense of psychological security and hope of immortality. Although secular beliefs can also serve a terror management function, religious beliefs are particularly well suited to mitigate...
Article
Four studies examined the relationship between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone (level of influence of the parasympathetic nervous system on the heart), a variable with health implications for heart disease and auto-immune disorders. Building on evidence that self-esteem provides a sense of security and that a sense of security affects cardiac va...
Article
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Four studies investigated whether political allegiance and salience of outgroup membership contribute to the phenomenon of acceptance of false, stigmatizing information (smears) about political candidates. Studies 1-3 were conducted in the month prior to the 2008 U.S. Presidential election and together demonstrated that pre-standing opposition to J...
Article
Prior terror management research shows that mortality salience (MS) motivates both self-esteem striving and worldview bolstering. The present research examined these processes in the context of dating preferences. It was hypothesized that in short-term romantic contexts, MS-induced self-esteem striving motivates interest in dating a physically attr...
Article
Research has shown that mortality salience (MS) heightens liking for certain political candidates. Yet the particular qualities that make candidates more appealing after MS has been subject to debate. This study tested three possibilities: MS increases liking for charismatic candidates independent of participants’ or candidates’ political orientati...