Sophie Roell interviews Sheldon Solomon:
Sophie Roell: Before we get to the books, do you really think fear of death drives most of human behaviour?
Sheldon Solomon: Yes. I don’t think it’s the only motivational impulse for what people do, but it pervades a substantial portion of human activity — whether we’re aware of it or not. Mostly, we’re not. In our book, The Worm at the Core, we’re borrowing ideas from the books we will talk about momentarily. What we add to the enterprise are empirical studies that, by traditional scientific standards, lend credibility to these claims. None of the authors are saying this is the only reason we do things. What they are saying – and what we try to say in our book — is that if we don’t consider the role that existential concerns play in human affairs, we’ll be able to understand or explain very little.
Sophie Roell: So before you did these experiments, many people had claimed fear of death was an important motivator, but nobody had really proven it?