Terror Management Theory and Attitudes toward Science
This line of research examines the underlying psychological motives that influence people’s beliefs in science. More specifically, we have tested whether antagonism toward evolution (a well-supported scientific theory) and acceptance of intelligent design (a pseudoscientific belief with absolutely no empirical evidence) are partly explained by underlying existential anxieties. Drawing on Terror Management Theory, we have found that this seems to be the case (Tracy, Hart, & Martens, 2011). In related ongoing research we are examining whether the need to maintain meaning might also drive scientific beliefs, and how individual differences in existential anxieties might influence responses to death and meaning threats.