Sad to say: is it time for sorrow management theory?

Kastenbaum, Robert and Heflick, Nathan A. (2010) Sad to say: is it time for sorrow management theory? Omega: Journal for the Study of Death and Dying, 62 (4). pp. 305-327. ISSN 0030-2228

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Terror Management Theory (TMT) research often asks respondents to describe their personal death. This exposure enables the testing of hypotheses regarding defenses (“buffers”) against the anxious awareness of death. Curiously, though, the respondents' narratives are not analyzed or reported. The present study offers a qualitative analysis of 209 college student narrative responses provided for this purpose by TMT researchers Jeff Greenberg and Nathan Heflick. The narratives are reviewed with attention to affect (adjectives), semantic structure, and theme. Many responses are marked by anxiety, but sorrow is also pervasive. Individual differences in response substance and structure invite further exploration. It is suggested that our understanding of the response to personal death threat could be enhanced by encompassing sorrow as well as anxiety within the same conceptual framework. Several specific hypotheses and suggestions are offered.

Keywords:Sorrow, Affect, Terror management
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:23376
Deposited On:09 Jul 2016 20:48

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