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National Cancer Institute
Jamie Arndt, PhD

Jamie Arndt, PhD

Research Interests
Jamie Arndt, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Arndt’s research is broadly concerned with questions about fundamental aspects of the human condition. Following an existential tradition drawing from writers Otto Rank and Ernest Becker, he is particularly interested in how awareness of mortality affects social behaviors, and how the pursuit of meaning and value protects the individual from anxiety. As pertaining to health, Dr. Arndt’s research has focused on the cognitive architecture that underlies the psychological defenses people use to protect themselves from both the conscious and unconscious awareness of death, and the implications for elucidating health relevant decisions and behaviors. This work explores how when mortality concerns are conscious, health decisions are guided in part by proximal motivational goals of reducing subjective vulnerability to a health threat and removing death-related thought from focal attention. In contrast, when concerns about mortality are active but outside of conscious awareness, health decisions are guided more by distal motivational goals of maintaining a sense of meaning and self-esteem. He has applied this analysis to better understand health behavior in sun exposure, smoking, fitness, dieting and restrictive eating, and cancer screening exams. Most recently, he is also exploring issues pertaining to cancer survivorship.

Selected Publications
Arndt, J., Routledge, C., & Goldenberg, J.L. (2006). Predicting proximal health responses to reminders of death: The influence of coping style and health optimism. Psychology and Health. 21, 593-614.

Arndt, J., Cook, A., Goldenberg, J.L, & Cox, C.R. (2007). Cancer and the threat of death: The cognitive dynamics of death thought suppression and its impact on behavioral health intentions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 12-29.

Goldenberg, J.L., & Arndt, J. (2008). The implications of death for health: A terror management health model for behavioral health promotion. Psychological Review, 115, 1032-1053.

Goldenberg, J.L., Arndt, J., Hart, J., & Routledge, C. (2008). Uncovering an existential barrier to breast cancer screening. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 260-274.

Arndt, J., Cox., C.R., Goldenberg, J.L., Vess, M., Routledge, C., & Cohen, F. (2009). Blowing in the (social) wind: Implications of extrinsic esteem contingencies for terror management and health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1191-1205.

Arndt, J., Vess, M., Cox, C.R., Goldenberg, J.L., & Lagle, S. (2009). The psychosocial effect of personal thoughts of mortality on cardiac risk assessment. Medical Decision Making, 29, 175-181.

Vess, M., Arndt, J., Cox, C.R., Routledge, C., & Goldenberg, J.L. (2009). The terror management of medical decisions: The effect of mortality salience and religious fundamentalism on support for faith-based medical intervention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 334-350.

Arndt, J., & Goldenberg, J.L. (in press). When self-enhancement is in the driver’s seat: Using the terror management health model to understand health behavior. In C. Sedikides and M. Alicke (Eds.), The Handbook of Self-enhancement and Self-protection. Guilford Press.

Selected Grants
Impact of mortality concerns on cancer risk behavior (NCI), PI, 2002-07.

Continuation: Impact of mortality concerns on cancer risk behavior (NCI), PI, 2009-14.

Selected Affiliations
Dr. Arndt is past chair of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology Training Committee, has served or is serving on the editorial boards of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Self-and Identity, and is a member of the Health Cognition Group at the National Cancer Institute.

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