Avoiding death or engaging life as accounts of meaning and culture: Comment on Pyszczynski et al. (2004)

Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Terror management theory emphasizes that self-esteem consists of a sense of meaning and significance, which serves mainly to defend against death awareness. The current authors counter that people's search for meaning and significance cannot be wholly reduced to defensive processes because it also reflects intrinsic developmental processes. Sociometer theory similarly offers a mainly defensive account of self-esteem, and its exclusive focus on belongingness versus exclusion ill equips it to deal with the multiple needs underlying self-esteem. The current authors suggest that self-esteem resulting from defenses against anxiety (whether about death or exclusion) is akin to contingent self-esteem, whereas true self-esteem is based in ongoing satisfaction of needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-477
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume130
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2004

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