Terror at one point in life one will

Terror Management Theory

Knowledge about the fact that at one point in life one will
die has a great impact on how people live their lives. While there is the need
to preserve life as much as possible to prolong life, the fear of death is a
key factor that determines how the well one lives his life. The knowledge about
the existence of death presents human with one hard decision; how they can
manage the terror that comes with the awareness about the possibility of death.
Psychologists have come up with studies that focus on the management of this
type of terror. In this regard, the study of terror management theory has been
significantly important in understanding how humans react and behave with
regards to the understanding and knowledge that at one point in their lives
they will die. Terror management theory seeks to explain the psychological
conflict that result from the self-preservation instinct. According to this
theory, the awareness of inevitable death causes anxiety, which in turn
motivates people’s behaviors and cognitions (Kelley, et al., 2015). This study
aims at discussing the implication of the terror management theory in human
behaviors. The study will rely on literatures that have been written about the
topic and pick on relevant information that can lead to logical conclusions.

The psychological impacts of knowing that at one point in
one’s life, he will face death have a significant influence on various aspects
of life. Terror management theory, proponents posit that there is the need to
understand the theory as it is a fundamental motivation that impact on people
and the cultural structure. Terror Management Theory illustrates larger variety
of human behaviors such as anger, tolerance by linking these behaviors to the
basic motivation to protect one’s self from mortality awareness.

In connection with the history of TMT, Kelley, et al.,
(2015) states that the theory was developed by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon
and Tom Pyzszczynski. According to Kelley, et al., (2015), the protective function is achieved through the
cultural anxiety buffers. Normally, the cultural anxiety buffers have two
components; these components include the individual’s perception of the
cultural worldview and the sense of personal worth and self-esteem. Based on
this study, one’s perception of the worldview and the faith that one has on the
worldview plays a critical role in the behaviors. For instance, Schimel,
et al., (2007) posits that
the faith on religion guides people’s behaviors and the attitudes towards life
in general. Similarly, individuals with little faith tend to live a careless
life that is neither focused nor straight because the cultural worldview does
not influence how they think about life. The personal worth or self-esteem also
plays a significant role in the behaviors of the individuals. People with high
self-esteem have high hopes in life and are more focused on the future. As
such, they cope with the issue of death by staying focused on life rather than
focusing on the issue of death. On the other hand, low self-esteem affects
people’s perception of worldview and at times affects their focus in life,
leading to anxiety and fear of death.

Another important study that focuses on terror management
theory is was conducted by Rutjens, et al., (2016). According this study,
people can cope with the psychological effects of the impending death
bolstering faith in their cultural worldview. Faith in this case is the belief
that things will soon get better and issues regarding death will pass. The
faith in the world view serves as a buffer and makes people start the belief
that they may not face death soonest and that their supreme beings will protect
them from the impending sufferings that come with death. The study cites
psychologists such as Gray, who believes that utopian beliefs and thinking are
common among the western society. This study is based on the perception that
faith gives people the hope that tomorrow will always be better than today. As
such, people keep on focusing on the events of the following day; thus avoiding
the issues of death and the pains that come with it.

People tend to be oriented towards the future and show
confidence that improvement is inevitable in future. According to the Schimel,
et al., (2007), the faith progress deletes any
thought of regression in life that can be advanced by the thought of death. For
instance, the moral progress in most cases gives one the hope that whatever
they have gone through is harder than what the future holds for them. According
to the TMT, history is meaningless and that whatever bad events that have taken
place in the past are less likely to be repeating themselves in future. This is
anchored on the perception that religion and the existence of supernatural
being play the greatest role in how soon or later one would face death.  They often believe in the ability of God to
decide their fate and fulfilling life that is not only optimistic of the
future, but also free from the possible sufferings occasioned by death.

Terror management theory is critically important in the
study of human behavior. According to Kelley, et al., (2015), people invest
heavily on culture and worldviews to avoid concentrating on the possibilities
of death. They engage in activities that give meaning to life. For instance,
the groupings in society ae mainly aimed at giving hope to the people within
the group set up. Kelley, et al., (2015) states that the group formations are
mainly based on the individual perception of worldview based on their cultural inclinations.
People with similar beliefs and cultures may form their groups. Group
formations such as religious groups are formed on the basis of pure consolation
and psychological support with the aim of diverting the attention from death. Terror
management theory does not only influence the social behavior, but also the
level of relationship formation.

A study was conducted by Solomon,
Greenberg, and Pyszczynski, (1991) to establish
the impacts of the TMT with regards to relationships and love. The study found
out that formation of relationship, friendship and love in society are anchored
on the people’s beliefs and practices of worldview with regards to the
contributions of the relationships in their lives (Solomon, Greenberg, and
Pyszczynski, 1991). Sexual attractions and intimate relationships can also be
linked to the nature of the relationship also depends on how the individuals
view the worldview. More often than not, people with similar cultural beliefs
and practices can easily form social groups since they understand and tolerate
each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, relationships are also based
on the cultural practices and beliefs in relationship to the worldview. This is
based on the fact that people feel more comfortable around friends that
understand their fears, strengths and weaknesses (Schimel,
et al., 2007). Despite
the fact that the social motives of joining relationships is barely not to
offer each other psychological support, the emotional comfort that one gets
from working relationships eventually lead to  managing terror that comes with death.

Many other research studies have been conducted to establish
reasons behind behavioral adaptations that people show to prevent the thought
of death. Solomon, Greenberg, and Pyszczynski, (1991) looked at the social
behaviors that have direct social impacts on people’s behaviors in relation to
the anxiety of mortality. (Kelley, and Schmeichel, (2015) cited that people
would behave in such a way that society would morally judge them positively and
give them the credit to postpone their days of death. The need to remain
focused on following the cultural norms, values and practices controls how
people interact with one another, and their attitudes towards each other. For
instance, society attempts to formulate rules that would govern the behavior of
people in society and prevent them from concentrating on death, which is the ultimate
eventuality for everyone. In addition, they tend to align the policies to
behaviors that bring orders in society (Kelley, & Schmeichel, 2015). For
instance, most cultural values recognize the sanctity of life and the need to
protect life at all cost. Therefore, the policies are geared towards instilling
behaviors that preserve life.

Genuine acceptance of death as part of the social event can
also be linked to the terror management theory. In case death occurs, it causes
emotional distress and pain to many friends and relatives. However,
psychologists state that the people who are affected by death often look for
various psychological supports to forget about the dead, in a bid to reduce the
anxiety and fear about their own death (Kelley, & Schmeichel, 2015). Despite
the pain, genuine acceptance of death in case it occurs presents psychologists
with valid reasons to believe that accepting death is a way of avoiding the
anxiety and fear of death. More often than not, people organize for religious
activities such as prayers and singing in a bid to offer emotional support to
the bereaved. The emotional support is often aimed at helping the bereaved to
forget about the impacts of death, the fate of the deceased and the possible
revisit of death to the family. The emotional support is anchored on the
religious teachings and the hopes of better day the following day.

In conclusion, terror management theory is a theory that gives
people the opportunity to love at the positive aspects of life rather than
concentrating on the ultimate eventuality of death. The theory postulates the
society invests in cultural values and systems that give them hopes of living.
This is the reason religious groups form to console, offer religious guidelines
on behavior and instill positive living among the members (Harmon-Jones et al.,
1997).