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

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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 behaviours 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 behavioural therapies, emphasising 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.