The great escape: the role of self-esteem and self-related cognition in terror management

Wisman, Arnaud and Heflick, Nathan and Goldenberg, Jamie (2015) The great escape: the role of self-esteem and self-related cognition in terror management. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60 . pp. 121-132. ISSN 0022-1031

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2015.05.006

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Abstract

Integrating terror management theory and objective self-awareness theory, we propose the existential escape hypothesis, which states that people with low self-esteem should be especially prone to escaping self-awareness as a distal response to thoughts of death. This is because they lack the means to bolster the self as a defense, and the propensity to bolster the self reduces the motivation to escape from self-awareness. Five studies supported this hypothesis. Individuals low, but not high, in self-esteem scored lower on a measure of private self-awareness (Study 1), showed less implicit self-activation (Studies 2 & 3), were more likely to choose to write about others than themselves (Study 4), and consumed more alcohol in a field study at a nightclub (Study 5) in response to mortality reminders. Implications for terror management theory (highlighting an additional route to defend against mortality awareness), self-regulation, physical health and well-being are discussed.

Keywords:terror management, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:18484
Deposited On:25 Sep 2015 07:50

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