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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

The Role of Death in Life

Cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for The Denial of Death, arguing that fear of death is “the mainspring of human activity,” but his ideas were generally dismissed as philosophical speculation. Sheldon Solomon and his colleagues Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski developed Terror Management Theory (TMT) to substantiate Becker’s claim that death awareness has a profound and pervasive effect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in almost every domain of life.

Learn about out how awareness of our mortality influences everything from the mundane to the momentous—what we eat for lunch, whom we voted for in the last election, how judges make legal decisions, our attitudes about shopping, our mental health and physical well being, whom we love, and whom we hate.

Listen to Sheldon Solomon, PhD Professor of psychology at Skidmore College and co-author of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life.

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