The Causes and Consequences of a Need for Self-Esteem: A Terror Management Theory

  • Jeff Greenberg
  • Tom Pyszczynski
  • Sheldon Solomon
Part of the Springer Series in Social Psychology book series (SSSOC)

Abstract

Throughout the past few thousand years, historical accounts, philosophical treatises, and works of fiction and poetry have often depicted humans as having a need to perceive themselves as good, and their actions as moral and justified. Within the last hundred years, a number of important figures in the development of modern psychology have also embraced this notion that people need self-esteem (e.g., Adler, 1930; Allport, 1937; Homey, 1937; James, 1890; Maslow, 1970; Murphy, 1947; Rank, 1959; Rogers, 1959; Sullivan, 1953). Of these, Karen Homey most thoroughly discussed the ways people try to attain and maintain a favorable self-image. The clinical writings of Horney, and other psychotherapists as well, document the ways in which people attempt to defend and enhance self-esteem; they also suggest that difficulty maintaining self-esteem, and maladaptive efforts to do so, may be central to a variety of mental health problems. In this chapter, we will first review the research supporting the existence of a need for self-esteem. Then we will present a theory that accounts for this need and specifies the role it plays in a variety of phenomena including self-presentation.

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Greenberg
  • Tom Pyszczynski
  • Sheldon Solomon

There are no affiliations available

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