That fear causes behavioral reactions which, from time to time, become irrational or paranoid, leading to various forms of antisocial behavior.
Included in that behavior is the formation of world views, together with social grouping with others who likewise hold that particular world view:
One of the most destructive and perplexing problems facing contemporary society is the pervasive tendency of people to respond with hostility and disdain toward those who are different from themselves. This tendency to reject those who are different is well-documented in the literature on prejudice (e.g., Tajfel, 1982), the similarity-attraction relationship (for a review, see Byrne, 1971), and reactions to deviance (e.g., Miller & Anderson, 1979; Schachter, 1951). A common notion in much of the theorizing concerning these effects is that people prefer similar others over dissimilar others because of the consensual validation of one's own beliefs and attitudes provided by similar others (e.g., Byrne, 1971;Festinger, 1954; Tajfel, 1982). The research reported in this article was concerned with the psychological basis of this need for consensual validation.(The Effects of Mortality Salience on Reactions to Those Who Threaten or Bolster the Cultural Worldview, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1990, Vol. 58, No. 2, 308-318, PDF, italics added).
Put simply, people's beliefs about reality provide a buffer against the anxiety that results from living in a largely uncontrollable, perilous universe, where the only certainty is death.
Thus, as Byrne (1971) and others have suggested, attraction to similar others can be explained as resulting from the consensual validation of beliefs that such others provide. From a terror management perspective, then, positive reactions to similar others and negative reactions to dissimilar others occur partly because of the impact such individuals have on faith in one's worldview.
A recent post on this blog concerns behavioral studies of State Sponsored Crimes Against Democracy, in the context of 9/11.
In that post we saw that behavioral scientists are studying why "The ellipses of due diligence riddling the official account of the 9/11 incidents" continue to be ignored by scholars of policy and public administration.
We can add the main stream media (MSM) to the study, in the sense that they have a world view and they also try to protect it.
People who have a different world view (e.g. "Truthers") from the government or the MSM world view, are seen as a threat and a discomfort to the extent that the comfort against the fear of death is disturbed.
One comforting, yet intoxicating world view is that our nation is good and therefore can do no wrong against the public. Clearly, the Truthers threaten the official world view of the government and of the press.
My car, my family, my church, my city, my state, my government, and my country, are actually extensions of our very selves in this world view sense.
Those who threaten the comfort zone provided by our world view are seen as being hostile toward us, which engenders hostility back toward them.
The phenomenon converges with other threats, so it has also been seen in the global warming / global climate change "debates" or dialogues:
A recent paper by the biologist Janis L Dickinson, published in the journal Ecology and Society, proposes that constant news and discussion about global warming makes it difficult for people to repress thoughts of death, and that they might respond to the terrifying prospect of climate breakdown in ways that strengthen their character armour but diminish our chances of survival. There is already experimental evidence suggesting that some people respond to reminders of death by increasing consumption. Dickinson proposes that growing evidence of climate change might boost this tendency, as well as raising antagonism towards scientists and environmentalists. Our message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of Western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism.(Monbiot, italics added). The opposite ends of this spectrum are quite far apart, going from "global warming is the greatest hoax of all time" to "we are all going to die" rhetoric.
A more effective exercise, which would diminish these negative effects, would be to master the fear of death in a non-confrontational way, realizing that we are all in this together.