Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: The Social Psychology of Existential Concerns

Pages: 438
Item #: 4318106
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1155-5
List Price: $49.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $39.95
Copyright: 2012
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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A fundamental aspect of being human is knowing that one day we will die. Efforts to contend with this knowledge are at the root of a great many social behaviors across a variety of domains, and include efforts to transcend the human body, aggression against enemies and the need for scapegoats, even extreme reactions such as terrorism and suicide, as well as the development of symbolic language and the creation of art and music.

In this thought-provoking addition to the Herzliya Series on Personality and Social Psychology, editors Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer have gathered a varied group of international thinkers to investigate these existential concerns within a framework that is both philosophical and practical.

Theorists examine the nature of universal themes such as the importance of personal choice and human autonomy in an arbitrary world, and the vital roles of parenthood and religion in providing solace against the threat of meaninglessness. And clinicians discuss the use of various cognitive–behavioral therapies, emphasizing the mind's propensity to assign value in ways that can be either maladaptive or liberating.

The authors build upon insights from previous chapters, resulting in a cohesive and thoughtfully-prepared book filled with cutting-edge research.

Table of Contents



Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer

I. The Problem of Finitude

  1. Terror Management Theory: From Genesis to Revelations
    Jeff Greenberg
  2. Helplessness: A Hidden Liability Associated With Failed Defenses Against Awareness of Death
    Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver
  3. A Significant Contributor to a Meaningful Cultural Drama: Terror Management Research on the Functions and Implications of Self-Esteem
    Jamie Arndt
  4. Culture, Ideology, Morality, and Religion: Death Changes Everything
    Tom Pyszczynski and Pelin Kesebir
  5. A Body of Terror: Denial of Death and the Creaturely Body
    Jamie L. Goldenberg
  6. The Impermanence of All Things: An Existentialist Stance on Personal and Social Change
    Gilad Hirschberger and Dan Shaham

II. The Threat of Meaninglessness

  1. Meaning: Ubiquitous and Effortless
    Laura A. King
  2. Religion as a Source of Meaning
    Crystal L. Park and Donald Edmondson
  3. Becoming and Developing: Personal Growth in the Wake of Parenthood and Grandparenthood
    Orit Taubman – Ben-Ari
  4. Deriving Solace From a Nemesis: Having Scapegoats and Enemies Buffers the Threat of Meaninglessness
    Mark J. Landau, Daniel Sullivan, Zachary K. Rothschild, and Lucas A. Keefer
  5. Terrorism as Means to an End: How Political Violence Bestows Significance
    Arie W. Kruglanski, Michele Gelfand, and Rohan Gunaratna

III. The Challenge of Freedom

  1. Beyond Illusions and Defense: Exploring the Possibilities and Limits of Human Autonomy and Responsibility Through Self-Determination Theory
    Richard M. Ryan, Nicole Legate, Christopher P. Niemiec, and Edward L. Deci
  2. Conditional Regard in Close Relationships
    Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Guy Roth, Avi Assor, and Abira Reizer
  3. Removing the Constraints on Our Choices: A Psychobiological Approach to the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Techniques
    Nava Levit Binnun, Rachel Kaplan Milgram, and Jacob Raz
  4. Choice, Freedom, and Autonomy
    Barry Schwartz

IV. Connection Versus Isolation and Loneliness

  1. An Attachment Perspective on Coping With Existential Concerns
    Phillip R. Shaver and Mario Mikulincer
  2. Ostracism: The Impact of Being Rendered Meaningless
    Kipling D. Williams
  3. Why People Die By Suicide: Further Development and Tests of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior
    Thomas E. Joiner Jr. and Caroline Silva

V. Overcoming Existential Threats and Challenges

  1. The Case of Allison: An Existential-Integrative Inquiry Into Death Anxiety, Groundlessness, and the Quest for Meaning and Awe
    Kirk J. Schneider
  2. Separation Theory and Voice Therapy Methodology
    Robert W. Firestone and Lisa Firestone
  3. Acceptance and Commitment to Chosen Values in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    Iftah Yovel and Noa Bigman

VI. Synthesis

  1. The Social Psychology of Meaning, Mortality, and Choice: An Integrative Perspective on Existential Concerns
    Sheldon Solomon


About the Editors

Editor Bios

Phillip R. Shaver, PhD, a social and personality psychologist, is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. Before moving there, he served on the faculties of Columbia University, New York University, University of Denver, and State University of New York at Buffalo. He has coauthored and coedited numerous books and has published over 200 scholarly journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Shaver's research focuses on attachment, human motivation and emotion, close relationships, personality development, and the effects of meditation on behavior and the brain. He is a member of the editorial boards of Attachment and Human Development, Personal Relationships, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Emotion, and he has served on grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Shaver received a Distinguished Career Award and a Mentoring Award from the International Association for Relationship Research and has served as president of that organization.

Mario Mikulincer, PhD, is professor of psychology and dean of the New School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. He has published five books and over 280 scholarly journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Mikulincer's main research interests are attachment theory, terror management theory, personality processes in interpersonal relationships, coping with stress and trauma, grief-related processes, and prosocial motives and behavior.

He is a member of the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Inquiry, and Personality and Social Psychology Review, and he has served as associate editor of two journals, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Personal Relationships. Recently, he was elected to serve as chief editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

He received the EMET Prize in Social Science for his contributions to psychology and the Berscheid-Hatfield Award for Distinguished Mid-Career Achievement from the International Association for Relationship Research.