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The Great Escape: The Role of Self-esteem and Self-related Cognition in Terror Management

Wisman, Arnaud, Heflick, Nathan A, Goldenberg, Jamie L (2015) The Great Escape: The Role of Self-esteem and Self-related Cognition in Terror Management. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, . pp. 1-48. ISSN 0022-1031. (doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2015.05.006)

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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.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.jesp.2015.05.006
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Social Psychology
Depositing User: Arnaud Wisman
Date Deposited: 28 May 2015 12:21 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 14:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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