An attachment perspective on managing death concerns

Mario Mikulincer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this chapter, I apply attachment theory to understand the ways in which people experience and cope with the existential concern of one’s own mortality. I begin this chapter by presenting an overview of attachment theory and Mikulincer and Shaver’s (2016) theoretical model of the activation and psychodynamics of the attachment behavioral system in adulthood. I then review empirical studies showing that heightened awareness of death automatically activates the attachment system, which, in turn, moves people toward actual others or mental representations of them to bolster feelings of safety and security and thereby reduces existential anxiety. I then review studies showing that individual differences in attachment-system functioning shape the ways in which people experience, think about, and cope with the terror of death.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Terror Management Theory
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780128118443
ISBN (Print)9780128118450
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Attachment behaviors
  • Death
  • Emotion regulation
  • Terror management theory


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