Thomas Pyszczynski, one of social psychology's preeminent scholars and a leading expert on Terror Management Theory, will speak on "The great Satan versus the axis of evil: A Terror Management Theory perspective on terrorism and political extremism." He will speak broadly about the influence and significance of "mortality salience," particularly as it relates to terrorism and current politics.
Mortality salience is the awareness of death that can come in many forms, such as seeing images of 9/11 or passing a funeral home. Terror Management Theory suggests that awareness of the inevitability and finality of death may lead to feelings of terror that affect human behavior in predictable ways.
Pyszczynski is a psychology professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His talk is hosted by MSU's psychology department and funded by a College of Letters and Science Research Enhancement Award.
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