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edge theory

a theory proposing that death anxiety has a survival function that emerges when individuals perceive themselves to be in life-threatening situations. Edge theory attempts to resolve the apparent discrepancy between other theoretical claims that death anxiety is a major motivational force and empirical studies that reveal only low to moderate levels of death anxiety in the general population. It suggests that death anxiety is the subjective or experiential side of a holistic preparation to deal with danger (symbolic of standing at the edge of the void). Heightened arousal is turned on by anxiety surges in emergency situations; psychological difficulties arise when the emergency response has permeated the individual’s everyday functioning. See also terror management theory. [introduced by Robert J. Kastenbaum]

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Psychology term of the day

February 27th 2024



n. the structural and grammatical aspects of language, as distinguished from semantics.