Cosmic perception: The universe as a potential new existential threat

Faulkner, Callum (2015). Cosmic perception: The universe as a potential new existential threat Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Faulkner, Callum
Thesis Title Cosmic perception: The universe as a potential new existential threat
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Matthew Hornsey
Total pages 74
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
The existential threat of death and our finite mortality is an integral driver of human behaviour. This fear of death and the protective mechanisms utilised to allay our fear of death, have been examined extensively by terror management theory and mortality salience research. Until now, however, very little attention has been paid to existential threats other than death. The present study proposed that the vastness of the universe is one such contemplation capable of eliciting existential threat and challenging the meaning, purpose, and value of our lives. A sample of 327 American citizens were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and assigned to one of three experimental conditions. One of which formed the cosmic perception induction, which elicited considerations of the vastness of the universe. The results of inducing considerations of space was shown to negatively affect the selfesteem, just world belief, existential wellbeing, and religious zeal of Christian participants and not non-religious participants. The implications of this finding are discussed, particularly with regard to the divergence from terror management theory.
Keyword Cosmic perception

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Created: Thu, 05 May 2016, 14:38:18 EST by Lisa Perry on behalf of School of Psychology