I just did a book review of the massive 5th edition of the Handbook of Social Psychology and came across something quite new. The chapter is “Experimental Existential Psychology: Coping with the Facts of Life.” I thought existential philosophy and psychology were relegated to the ’60’s (you know when everyone read Sartre and Camus), or maybe Woody Allen movies. Nope, it is still alive and well and living in social psychology. The authors introduce the concept of “terror managent theory.” “The theory starts with the proposition that awareness of the inevitability of death in an animal biologically predisposed to live creates the potential for terror, which would seriously impede goal-directed behavior unless managed some way.” Maybe there is a connect between terror and terrorist management. We will come back to this later.
Reference: Pyszcynski, T., Greenberg, J., Koole, S., & Solomon, S. (2010). Experimental Existential Psychology: Coping with the Facts of Life. In S. Fiske, D.T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.). Handbook of Social Psychology (5th edition). New York: Wiley & Sons, pp. 724-757.