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What does TMT stand for?

Terror Management Theory


What is Terror Management Theory?

Terror management theory (TMT) attempts to explain a type of defensive human thinking and behaviour that stems from an awareness and fear of death.


What creates terror in TMT?

Two main forces together which creates terror – desire for self-preservation and the awareness of death

Use your culture to deal with this


What three hypothesises are associated with TMT?

1. Anxiety-buffering hypothesis
2. Mortality Salience hypothesis
3. Death-Thought Accessibility hypothesis


What is the Anxiety-buffering hypothesis?

- Self-esteem acts as an anxiety buffer, e.g. higher esteem leads to lower anxiety
- If world-views (and self-esteem) serve an anxiety-buffering function, then bolstering these structures should reduce anxiety in threatening situations


What is the Mortality Salience hypothesis?

- Mortality salience is the awareness by individuals that their death is inevitable.
- If we make people aware of their death, then you are more worthy of your world view
- If world-views (and self-esteem) buffer from existential terror, then death reminders should increase the need for these psychological structures


What is the Death-Thought Accessibility hypothesis?

- If world-views (and self-esteem) defend from death-related concerns, then threatening these psychological structures should temporarily make death- related thoughts accessible


What alternatives are there to TMT?

- Uncertainty Management Model
- Meaning Maintenance Model


What is the uncertainty management model?

Uncertainty, not death, is the core existential motive (Van den Bos, 2009) – life is uncertain. It is not death that is at the core, it is uncertainty


What is the meaning maintenance model?

Meaning, not death, is the core motive (Heine et al., 2006) – we are driven to find a sense of meaning in life. When you remind people of death you are threatening their sense of meaning