Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Timothy L. Hulsey

Committee Members

Leticia Y. Flores, Garriy Shteynberg, Sheldon Solomon


In his seminal work The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker suggested that the primary motivation behind human behavior is a fear of dying. This claim has been operationalized into an empirically based theory entitled Terror Management Theory (TMT). TMT outlines how self-esteem and cultural worldviews play an important role in how humans manage death anxiety. One especially important cultural worldview is religion. TMT research suggests that religious beliefs help provide protection again death anxiety. Religious orientation research outlines three orientations to religion: extrinsic, intrinsic, and quest. In the present study, I investigate whether a quest-like state of mind may help buffer the effects of death anxiety.

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