Applying terror management theory as a framework to understand the impact of heightened mortality salience on children, adolescents, and their parents: A systematic review

Mataya Kilpatrick, Ana Hutchinson, Elizabeth Manias, Stéphane L. Bouchoucha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Terror Management Theory (TMT) posits that controlling death anxiety is a driving force behind many aspects of social behavior. The objective in this systematic review was to explore how TMT is used to explain children’s, adolescents’, and parents’ behavior when exposed to situations that increase mortality salience. A systematic search identified 2484 papers; 14 studies met eligibility criteria. Key topics explored were mortality salience, death thoughts, and distal defenses. Findings indicate that adolescents comprehend death and have mortality salience reactions like adults, highlighting the potential for TMT to be used to explain children’s and adolescents’ social behavior in high-stress situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-826
Number of pages13
JournalDeath Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

Cite this