chapter  1
Terror Management Theory
Exploring the Role of Death in Life
ByAlex Darrell, Tom Pyszczynski
Pages 15

Prior to the emergence of terror management theory (TMT) in the mid-1980s, empirically oriented psychologists devoted little attention to the possibility that the problem of death might play an important role in everyday life. This chapter provides TMT and the initial waves of research bearing on its fundamental propositions and starts with a brief consideration of the intellectual roots of the theory. Cultural mythologies portray death, or awareness of it, entering the world as a result of human caprice or divine punishment. TMT integrated Becker's ideas with ideas from contemporary experimental social psychology to establish a base from which to generate empirically testable hypotheses. Death-thought accessibility hypothesis follows from TMT that if cultural worldviews, self-esteem, and close attachments protect against the anxiety produced by awareness of death, then challenges to these structures should increase the accessibility of death-related thoughts.