Lab: Existential Motivation Lab
Much of what excites me about psychological research is the collaborative process of studying "big" questions about fundamental aspects of the human condition. Following an existential tradition that draws heavily from such writers as Otto Rank and Ernest Becker, I am particularly fascinated by how our awareness of the transience of existence affects social behaviors, and how the pursuit of meaning and value in one’s life serves to protect the individual from deeply-rooted anxiety.
Utilizing terror management theory as a vehicle, this interest has led me to examine such topics as aggression, unconscious and other cognitive processes, prejudice, stereotypes, creativity, political judgments, self-esteem processes, depression, consumer motivations, legal issues, parental and interpersonal attachment, physiological arousal and affect, self-awareness, and cultural identification and disidentification.
Most recently, I have been particularly focused on trying to understand the cognitive architecture that underlies the psychological defenses that people use to protect themselves from both the conscious and unconscious awareness of death, the implications of such an analysis for elucidating health relevant decisions and behaviors, the dynamic interface between defensively oriented processes with motives for creativity, growth, and self-enrichment, and the psychological landscape of nostalgia.
For more information on terror management theory, check out: http://www.tmt.missouri.edu/
Arndt, J., Lieberman, J.D., Cook, A., & Solomon, S. (2005). Terror management in the courtroom: Exploring the effects of mortality salience on legal decision-making. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 407-438.
Arndt, J., Routledge, C., Greenberg, J., & Sheldon, K.M. (2005). Illuminating the dark side of creative expression: Assimilation needs and the consequences of creative action following mortality salience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1327-1339.
Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C. (2006). Nostalgia: Content, triggers, and functions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 975-993.
Cox, C. R., Arndt, J., Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., Abdollahi, A., & Solomon, S. (2008). Terror management and adults’ attachment to their parents: The safe haven remains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 696-717.
Goldenberg, J.L., & Arndt, J. (2008). The implications of death for health: A terror management health model for behavioral health promotion. Psychological Review, 115, 1032-1053.
Arndt, J., Cox., C.R., Goldenberg, J.L., Vess, M., Routledge, C., & Cohen, F. (2009). Blowing in the (social) wind: Implications of extrinsic esteem contingencies for terror management and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1191-1205.
Routledge, C., & Arndt, J. (2009). Creative terror management: Creativity as a facilitator of cultural exploration after mortality salience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 493-505.
Vess, M., Routledge, C., Landau, M.J., & Arndt, J. (2009). The dynamics of death and meaning: The effects of death-relevant cognitions and personal need for structure on perceptions of meaning in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 728-744.