Terror Management Theory (TMT)

Terror management theory (TMT) is a social psychology concept that humans have distress and anxiety related to the awareness of mortality and the inevitability of death. TMT suggests that this anxiety and psychological distress is subdued by investment in cultural beliefs and world views.

This fear of death (or terror) is unique to humans and does not purportedly exist in any other species. Humans deal with this distress by investment in culture and belief systems. Self-esteem is also an important component in that it protects individuals from the terror of mortality.

According to TMT, experiencing this terror can affect a person's behaviors, perceptions, and cognitive functions. It can cause increased ingroup/outgroup thinking and alter ethnic and religious perceptions and stereotypes. It can also negatively affect a person's self esteem.

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