Some might jump to the conclusion that ruminating about death and destruction is a major downer – with potentially deleterious consequences for individuals and society at large. But a joint US/Dutch research team have published findings which shine a positive beam of light into this potentially murky area. With the sombre implications of Terror Management Theory (TMT) in mind, the team investigated instead “… the beneficial trajectories of the terror management process”, and discovered that :
“Contemplating death doesn’t necessarily lead to morose despondency, fear, aggression or other negative behaviors, as previous research has suggested.”
Far from it, say the researchers :
“The awareness of mortality can motivate people to enhance their physical health and prioritize growth-oriented goals; live up to positive standards and beliefs; build supportive relationships and encourage the development of peaceful, charitable communities; and foster open-minded and growth-oriented behaviors.”
Optimists and pessimists alike can find further details in (the abstract of) – When Death is Good for Life : Considering the Positive Trajectories of Terror Management (Personality and Social Psychology Review, November 2012, vol. 16 no. 4, pp. 303-329).