- Oxford Library of Psychology
- Copyright Page
- About the Editor
- Inside the Black Box: Motivational Science in the 21st Century
- Social Cognitive Theory and Motivation
- A Self-Regulatory Viewpoint on Human Behavior
- Regulatory Focus Theory and Research: Catching Up and Looking Forward After 20 Years
- A Terror Management Theory Perspective on Human Motivation
- The Nature and the Conditions of Human Autonomy and Flourishing: Self-Determination Theory and Basic Psychological Needs
- Ego Depletion: Theory and Evidence
- The Complex Role of Choice in Human Motivation and Functioning
- Curiosity and Motivation
- Flow: The Experience of Intrinsic Motivation
- Implicit–Explicit Motive Congruence and Moderating Factors
- Interest and Its Development, Revisited
- Achievement Goals
- Goal Attainment
- Does Goal Pursuit Require Conscious Awareness?
- On Gains and Losses, Means and Ends: Goal Orientation and Goal Focus Across Adulthood
- The Five Pillars of Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection
- The Gendered Body Project: Sexual and Self-Objectification as Motivated and Motivating Processes
- Relatedness Between Children and Parents: Implications for Motivation
- Motivational Neuroscience
- Advancing Issues in Motivation Intensity Research: Updated Insights from the Cardiovascular System
- Autonomous Motivation, Internalization, and the Self: A Functional Approach of Interacting Neuropsychological Systems
- Motivation in Psychotherapy
- Motivation in Education
- Advances in Motivation in Exercise and Physical Activity
- Motivational Processes in Youth Sport and Physical Activity
- Work Motivation: Where do the Different Perspectives Lead Us?
- Envisioning Progress and Perils: Musings on the Future of Motivation Research in a Rapidly Evolving World
Abstract and Keywords
The capacity for self-reflection, which plays an important role in human self-regulation, also leads people to become aware of the limitations of their existence. Awareness of the conflict between one’s desires (e.g., to live) and the limitations of existence (e.g., the inevitability of death) creates the potential for existential anxiety. This chapter reviews how this anxiety affects human motivation and behavior in a variety of life domains. Terror management theory and research suggest that transcending death and protecting oneself against existential anxiety are potent needs. This protection is provided by an anxiety-buffering system, which provides people a sense of meaning and value that function to shield them against these concerns. The chapter reviews evidence regarding the role of death and other existential concerns in four domains of existence: physical, personal, social, and spiritual. Because self-awareness is a prerequisite for existential anxiety, escaping or changing the nature of self-awareness can also be an effective way to manage the problems of life and death.
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.