People are afraid of dying, and this fear influences our behavior in many different ways. Or, in terms of Terror Management Theory, “the self-preservation motive and awareness of our own mortality ‘gives rise to potentially overwhelming terror” (Pyszczynski, et. al., 2004, p. 27 as qtd. in Moghaddam, 2008, p. 58).
Besides stating this slightly obvious fact, Terror Management theorists explain that people deal with the fear of death by creating worldviews, or beliefs, that help us to ignore or deny our inevitable demise. But Terror Management theory argues that no amount of comforting thoughts, however sincerely believed, are powerful enough to eradicate the deeply entrenched fear of death from our bodies and minds. As a result, the best our worldviews can do is allow us to repress our fear and then take out our “fears and negative emotions [on] outgroups” (Moghaddam, 2008, p. 59).
Of course, experiencing new cultures and worldviews isn’t always terrifying. The point of traveling is to see some place different, and to meet people who likely have different beliefs from your own. Still, Terror Management Theory is an important reminder of “the self-protective mechanism of cultures [and] the fear that can arise within us when we are confronted by outgroup members who, sometimes intentionally, challenge our belief systems and cultures” (Moghaddam, 2008, p. 61). Torchwood demonstrates that when we fear those who are different, life becomes as terrifying as dying. Continue reading