Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: The Social Psychology of Existential Concerns

Overview

A fundamental aspect of being human is knowing that one day we will die. Efforts to contend with this knowledge are at the root of a great many social behaviors across a variety of domains. These behavior include, on the one hand, the development of symbolic language, the creation of art and music, and efforts to transcend the human body. On the other hand, awareness of mortality has spawned acts of aggression against enemies, real or perceived, and extreme reactions such as ...

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Overview

A fundamental aspect of being human is knowing that one day we will die. Efforts to contend with this knowledge are at the root of a great many social behaviors across a variety of domains. These behavior include, on the one hand, the development of symbolic language, the creation of art and music, and efforts to transcend the human body. On the other hand, awareness of mortality has spawned acts of aggression against enemies, real or perceived, and extreme reactions such as terrorism and suicide.

In this thought-provoking addition to the Herzliya Series on Personality and Social Psychology, Shaver and Mikulincer have gathered a distinguished group of thinkers to investigate these existential concerns within a framework that is both philosophical and practical. Theorists examine the nature of universal themes such as the importance of personal choice and human autonomy in an arbitrary world and the vital roles of parenthood and religion in providing solace against the threat of meaninglessness. Clinicians discuss the use of various psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapies, emphasizing the mind's propensity to assign value in ways that can be either maladaptive or liberating. The result is a cohesive, well prepared book filled with cutting-edge research.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433811555
  • Publisher: American Psychological Association
  • Publication date: 6/15/2012
  • Pages: 438
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Contributors xi

Preface xv

Introduction Phillip R. Shaver Mario Mikulincer 3

I The Problem of Finitude 15

Chapter 1 Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelations Jeff Greenberg 17

Chapter 2 Helplessness: A Hidden Liability Associated With Failed Defenses Against Awareness of Death Mario Mikulincer Phillip R. Shaver 37

Chapter 3 A Significant Contributor to a Meaningful Cultural Drama: Terror Management Research on the Functions and Implications of Self-Esteem Jamie Arndt 55

Chapter 4 Culture, Ideology, Morality, and Religion: Death Changes Everything Tom Pyszczynski Pelin Kesebir 75

Chapter 5 A Body of Terror: Denial of Death and the Creaturely Body Jamie L. Goldenberg 93

Chapter 6 The Impermanence of All Things: An Existentialist Stance on Personal and Social Change Gilad Hirschberger Dan Shaham 111

II The Threat of Meaninglessness 127

Chapter 7 Meaning: Ubiquitous and Effortless Laura A. King 129

Chapter 8 Religion as a Source of Meaning Crystal L. Park Donald Edmondson 145

Chapter 9 Becoming and Developing: Personal Growth in the Wake of Parenthood and Grandparenthood Orit Taubman - Ben-Ari 163

Chapter 10 Deriving Solace From a Nemesis: Having Scapegoats and Enemies Buffers the Threat of Meaninglessness Mark J. Landau Daniel Sullivan Zachary K. Rothschild Lucas A. Keefer 183

Chapter 11 Terrorism as Means to an End: How Political Violence Bestows Significance Arie W. Kruglanski Michek Gelfand Rohan Gunaratna 203

III The Challenge of Freedom 213

Chapter 12 Beyond Illusions and Defense: Exploring the Possibilities and Limits of Human Autonomy and Responsibility Through Self-Determination Theory Richard M. Ryan Nicole Legate Christopher P. Niemiec Edward L. Deci 215

Chapter 13 Conditional Regard in Close Relationships Yaniv Kanat-Maymon Guy Roth Avi Assor Abira Reizer 235

Chapter 14 Removing the Constraints on Our Choices: A Psychobiological Approach to the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Techniques Nava Levit Binnun Rachel Kaplan Milgram Jacob Raz 253

Chapter 15 Choice, Freedom, and Autonomy Barry Schwartz 271

IV Connection Versus Isolation and Loneliness 289

Chapter 16 An Attachment Perspective on Coping With Existential Concerns Phillip R. Shaver Mario Mikulincer 291

Chapter 17 Ostracism: The Impact of Being Rendered Meaningless Kipling D. Williams 309

Chapter 18 Why People Die by Suicide: Further Development and Tests of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior Thomas E. Joiner Caroline Silva 325

V Overcoming Existential Threats and Challenges 337

Chapter 19 The Case of Allison: An Existential-Integrative Inquiry Into Death Anxiety, Groundlessness, and the Quest for Meaning and Awe Kirk J. Schneider 339

Chapter 20 Separation Theory and Voice Therapy Methodology Robert W. Firestone Lisa Firestone 353

Chapter 21 Acceptance and Commitment to Chosen Values in Cognitive Behavior Therapy Iftah Yovel Noa Bigman 379

VI Synthesis 399

Chapter 22 The Social Psychology of Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: An Integrative Perspective on Existential Concerns Sheldon Solomon 401

Index 419

About the Editors 437

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