Multilayered meanings in health decision making: A terror management health model analysis

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The Experience of Meaning in Life: Classical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies, ISSN: 1234-1234, Page: 349-362

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McCabe, Simon; Vail, Kenneth E., III; Arndt, Jamie; Goldenberg, Jamie L.
Springer Nature
Psychology; Conscious Thought; Mortality Salience; Meaning System; Terror Management Theory; Focal Consciousness; Psychiatry and Psychology
book chapter description
This chapter uses the terror management health model to consider how individuals' multilayered systems of meaning can affect health behaviors and decision making. Building on terror management theory, the present analysis suggests terror management efforts rely on the maintenance of a microsystem of meaning (organizing one's world into a coherent, predictable place) and a macrosystem of meaning (organizing one's actions within that world into an abstract system of values and beliefs). With the micro-level forming the bedrock of meaningful behavior, we focus on two major ways that relatively macro-level construals of meaning can influence health. First, conscious awareness of death can motivate decisions based on macro-level perceptions of health-oriented outcomes. Second, nonconscious awareness of death can motivate decisions based on macro-level perceptions of self-oriented outcomes. Throughout, we consider how these processes might be harnessed to contribute to healthy behaviors and decisions.