The psychological topics of death and how people react to it
The topic of death can bring about negative emotions to some while others embrace death. Cultural and religious backgrounds create many different viewpoints on life, the afterlife, and coping with the death of a loved one. On the Fear of Death by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Evidence For Terror Management Theory: I. The Effect of Mortality Salience on Reactions to Those Who Violate or Uphold Cultural Values, a study contributed to by Abram Rosenblatt, Jeff Greenberg, Deborah Lyon, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski, both bring out unique points about death in two separate styles. This essay aims to discuss the difference between the two works, the key points brought out in each, and how each document is organized and who the intended audience is.
Both documents touch on the psychological topics of death and how people react to it. Kubler-Ross wrote based on her past experiences as a psychologist with her personal observations making the document possibly opinionated. Terror Management Theory was a document written by university professors to prove the hypothesis "when people are reminded of their own mortality, they are especially motivated to maintain their cultural anxiety-buffer, and thus are especially punitive toward those who violate it and especially benevolent to those who uphold it" (682). The Terror Management Theory excerpt provided contained the experiment to see how 22 judges ruled on an alleged prostitute when half of them were reminded of their own morals and beliefs through a survey. This made Terror Management Theory a research article, likely having its findings reviewed and verified.
On the Fear of Death aims to describe how humans deal with death of loved ones and friends. Kubler makes the point that humans have been grieving the same way for centuries by stating "I give these examples to emphasize that man has not basically changed" (196). On the Fear of Death also points out how people from different cultural backgrounds grieve in different ways. On the other hand, Evidence for Terror Management Theory aimed to discover in the experiment provided how one would react when their mortality was made certain by asking judges to set a bond on a person they were told was a prostitute. Terror Management Theory brought out another point that when someone is reminded of their morals, it can affect their decision and that one’s belief system helps in coping with an existential fear of death. Although Each document aims to describe the human experience involving death but the methods for conveying the idea are of two distinct formatting.
On the fear of Death is structured completely differently from Terror Management Theory, which clearly states out a hypothesis, explains the experiment, describes how the test was conducted, and finally ends with listing out the observations of the experiment. Terror Management Theory is backed by evidence supporting their claim that can be recreated as many times as possible. In contrast On The Fear of Death, which is likely the more accessible of the two documents, is not based on any research or physical evidence, but rather, on Kubler-Ross’ own personal experiences and observations. Both pieces of literature were likely written for those who had an interest in psychology.
The topic of death brings about discomfort to many. Some have lost loved ones in death and others fear their own death. Terror Management Theory and On the Fear of Death both bring out unique points about death by showing how it is viewed differently in different cultures and how our own fear of death can bring about different decisions. While both being structured differently and having different information both cover the topic of death and how humans are affected by it.
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