Experimenting with Death: An Introduction to Terror Management Theory

worst-way-to-die-2An Illustrated Lecture by Michael Johns, Former Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming
Date: Thursday, May 6
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by
Morbid Anatomy

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Denial of Death,” cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker attempted to develop a unified theory of human behavior. He argued that it was the human capacity to grasp and contemplate our own mortality-and our need to suppress this knowledge-that was at the root of human culture and behavior, from genocide to altruism, religion to philosophy. Terror Management Theory (TMT) is a psychological theory directly based on Becker’s work, developed by a group of social psychologists interested in testing Becker’s assertions about death as a core motivator of human behavior. Over the last 25 years, psychologists in the North America, Europe and the Middle East have conducted hundreds of studies to test hypothesis derived from Becker’s work and the Terror Management Theory it inspired. This body of research compellingly supports Becker’s thesis and reveals the ways in which mortality salience influences behaviors ranging from aggression and stereotyping to creativity and sexuality. Using segments from the documentary “Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality,” this lecture will introduce Terror Management Theory and discuss the often clever experiments that have been conducted to test its tenets

Michael Johns is a social psychologist and works as a research scientist in the NYC Department of Health. He has published numerous research articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, including Terror Management Theory. Before moving to Brooklyn, Mike was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming.

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