Together with global collaborators, we strive to help humanity as they come to terms with the certainty of death and the unsavory behaviors that result, through advocacy for social justice and change. Through our research, we engage in the ultimate act of symbolic immortality and creation of existential meaning, while providing comfort for the world.
Terror Management Theory (TMT) is a theory concerning the psychological effects of thinking about death. Founded by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski at the University of Kansas in the late 1980s, this theory posits that there is a basic psychological conflict that results from having a desire to live, but knowing that death will come. This conflict can produce debilitating terror that has to be managed in some way. The main way this is handled is through the adherence to a cultural worldview (e.g., religion, belief in an afterlife, political affiliations, national identity, etc.). A cultural worldview offers symbolic immortality by 1) providing a sense that you are a part of something greater that will ultimately outlive you or 2) your cultural worldview makes you feel superior to others not like you. These worldviews are the foundation for one's self-esteem - a concept the theory argues as being the personal, subjective measure of how well an individual is living up to his/her cultural worldview. The number of close relationships one has also plays a role in the management of terror from awareness of one's own mortality. The more you feel attached to others, the easier it is to handle the idea that you will some day be no longer alive.
Existential Psychology is a branch of social psychology that investigates the understanding of fundamental issues like "being" and "becoming" that are associated with human existence.
Communication Studies is focused on examining the processes surrounding human communication. We use this to examine various communication-based phenomena and the psychological impacts surrounding those phenomena including, but not limited to - health campaigns, advocacy messages, and social influence and persuasion.
The Scared to Death: A Terror Management Lab Production Podcast discusses existential topics and Terror Management Theory with esteemed guests. This podcast is primarily hosted by graduate and undergraduate students.