a reply to: and14263
Thankfully there is a fair amount of research in existential psychology which suggests that this is a viable research path.
Predominantly I'm drawing on Terror Management Theory and mortality salience. With these paradigms, reminding people of their own mortality/ having
them consider their death has significant impacts on their behaviour. The threat of considering ones own mortality produces a threat to the
individuals self-worth. to combat this individuals seek to bolster self-esteem and view themselves as valuable member of a meaningful reality. There
are many ways we can do this (and many other effects mortality salience has on individuals). Namely:
1. The first thing we do is invest ourselves in our society/ culture. triggering mortality salience and then allowing people to endorse their country
results in a far greater than normal response (i.e. Everyone greatly supports their country and states that its better than other countries). Why?
Because this helps us feel that we are apart of something meaningful - which protects against the mortality salience.
2. People also greatly affiliate with and endorse (authoritarian) religions. Why? (a) because religions offer immortality in the form of an afterlife
- therefore dissolving the fear of death, and (b) religions, especially authoritarian ones, provide strict and clear structure to how people should
live their lives - which also helps to give meaningfulness and structure back to our lives after a mortality threat.
2.a. Atheists/ other non-religious folk will also show this desire to engage with structures that give their life meaning. But being on-religious
they'll often turn to things like political parties, or the society/ culture inn general (like in point #1). By engaging in these societal structures
their lives are again given meaning and structure. This also offers a symbolic form of immortality, such that the person may think "I may die, but
Rome will live forever!" etc. By strongly affiliating with the culture you can achieve a symbolic immortality by believing that your individual death
is not so important and that your ethics/ essence will live on with the culture.
2.c. reinforcing the desire to affiliate with your culture/ religion etc. after mortality threat: numerous studies show that after a mortality
salience threat participants will lash out significantly more and significantly more harshly against out group members - with the explanation being
that the out group members (with different cultures) threaten the individuals culture, and if you're trying to find meaning in your culture you
don't want someone pointing out alternatives/ telling you it's wrong.
3. Priming death inspires Progressive Hope in people. Where Progressive hope is the belief that the world is continuously developing and getting
better (as opposed to civilizations establishing dominance and then destroying themselves ad infinitum). Mortality ties into this for the same reason
as #2: we all want to view ourselves as apart of something good and meaningful, as this inspires us and gives our lives purpose. So we don't ant to
think of our culture as cyclical (i.e. rising, destroying itself, falling, rising, destroying itself etc.)
There is a multitude of other examples and other nuances of how mortality salience effects individuals, but I think I've already rambled on too much
and I haven't even got to the point/ justified why cosmic insignificance salience is important yet!
Why is cosmic insignificance important/ going to effect people? Because by its logic everything I have just said about death and how we react to it -
all of the complex behaviours we develop to avoid thinking about our death - all of that... Is nothing. Completely insignificant, we will all die.
Billions of other humans have over eons, and the universe doesn't even blink an eye. It's is all completely insignificant. Every little thing we do,
every war, every love. On a cosmic scale it is absolutely meaningless. We could nuke the Earth and the fear/ pain/ anger/ of every human would account
for zilch. The earth will keep turning, the universe will go on. On the individual level it may be terrible, but not cosmically.
This is the crux of what I want to study: What will people do when confronted with this cosmic insignificance.
(Note: I think they will react very similarly to when mortality is threatened.)
But, anyway. I'm cool with my theoretical background, just looking for videos that make you guys feel small/ question space.