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A Terror Management Perspective on the Psychology of Control

Controlling the Uncontrollable
  • Tom Pyszczynski
  • Jeff Greenberg
  • Sheldon Solomon
Part of the The Springer Series in Social Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)

Abstract

Although humans share many features with other animals, the system through which they control their behavior is radically different from that found in any other species. Rather than relying entirely on genetically endowed, fixed response patterns and simple learned responses to environmental stimuli, humans exert a measure of control over their own behavior through a complex system of meanings and values that evolved over the millennia to provide a measure of flexibility and adaptability in human affairs that far surpasses that found in any other life-forms. Although the human system of self-regulation is constructed upon the simpler systems by which the behavior of other species is regulated, only humans use a linguistically based concept of self as the focal point for cognitive, behavioral,and affective control—which is effected and affected by focusing attention on this symbolic self. Because a substantial proportion of human activity is driven by this abstract linguistic self, we transcend the purely physical realm in which all other species reside and enter a different plane of subjective existence.

Keywords

Positive Affect Abstract Conception Integrative Activity Experimental Social Psychology Cultural Mainstream 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Pyszczynski
    • 1
  • Jeff Greenberg
    • 2
  • Sheldon Solomon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ArizonaTusconUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologySkidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA

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