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 insecurities.
This interest has led me to examine such topics as aggression, prejudice, stereotypes, political judgments, self-esteem processes, depression, consumer motivations, legal issues, parental and interpersonal attachment, physiological arousal and affect, self-awareness, cultural identification and disidentification, and the psychological landscape of nostalgia. I have pursued many of these topics with a complimentary interest in 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 and the dynamic interface between defensively oriented processes with motives for creativity, growth, and self-enrichment.
In recent years, I have been focused on the implications of such analyses for elucidating health relevant decisions and behaviors, which of late, has also inspired an interest in the capacity for conceptual metaphor to impact health decision making.
The above is mostly a snapshot of some previous and developing interests. More generally, I continue to be excited by new questions and issues with which my students are engaged.
For more information on terror management theory, check out: http://www.tmt.missouri.edu/ (though note my apology for the website being pretty out of date at this point).
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.
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.
Vail III, K.E., Juhl, J., Arndt, J., Routledge, C., Vess, M., & Rutjens, B. (2012).When death is good for life: Considering the positive trajectories of terror management. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 303-329.
Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Routledge, C., Arndt, J., Hepper, E.,G. & Zhou, X. (2015). To Nostalgize: Mixing Memory with Affect and Desire. In J.M. Olson & M.P. Zanna (Eds.), Vol. 51 (p. 189-273). Advances in Experimental Social Psychology.