The Role of Fear and Existential Anxiety in Social and Political Judgment (Grand Rapids)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Women's City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI, View Map

Presented by Todd Williams, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Grand Valley State University


Inspired by the seminal works of Ernest Becker (1971, 1973, 1975), this lecture will provide an overview of the role of existential anxiety in social and political judgement. Beginning with the broad question of “What makes humans uniquely human”, this lecture will provide an overview of the etiology, manifestation, and social complexities that arise from existential anxiety that is inherent in the human condition. A summary of empirical research on the topic will be followed by a discussion of the implications of these findings relative to today’s political landscape.

About the Speaker

My theoretical and research interests are focused on examining the diverse existential issues of the human condition. I am fascinated by how we, as social animals, construct a shared system of meaning while maintaining a private sense of self. Although I do not deny the utility of micro-level theory in psychological research, I feel that there is much to be gained through the use of a more holistic approach to understanding psychological phenomenon. Terror management theory (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991) has provided me with a broad and integrative framework from which to explore my primary research interests.

My interests encompass three topic areas: 1) How individuals acquire and maintain self-esteem in a social context, 2) How novel information influences beliefs and metacognitive awareness of changes in beliefs over time, and 3) How Machiavellianism relates to our ability to deceive others and our memory for things we have lied about.

Additional Details

Meetings are open to the Public

After the meeting, join us at Vitale's Sports Bar, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

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Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

Contact: Jennifer Beahan, , 616-698-2342