The Functions of Self-Esteem Enhancement and Close Relationships in Terror Management Theory
My proposed project will assess the relationship between self-esteem enhancement and the need for close relationships when mortality is made salient. According to present terror management theory literature, if self-esteem is enhanced, the need for close relationships will be less prevalent when mortality is made salient. However, if self-esteem is not enhanced, close relationships will act as a buffer for death anxiety. Thus, our research seeks to clarify and affirm the role of close relationships as a buffer for death-anxiety and investigate how self-esteem and close relationships interact to abate death-anxiety when mortality is made salient. As our project is not yet complete, we have received IRB approval and began data collection at the beginning of November. In order to test my hypothesis, I plan to conduct a 2x2 ANOVA with relationship commitment as the dependent variable. A survey has been created in which participants are randomly assigned to 1 of 4 test conditions. The first pool of participants will have their self-esteem enhanced, mortality made salient, and their relationship commitment measured. The second pool will have the self-esteem enhanced, mortality will not be made salient, and their relationship commitment will be measured. The third pool of pariticpants will have negative self-enhacment, mortality will be made salient, and their relationship commitment will be measured. The final gourp of particpants will have negative self-enhancement, mortality will not be made salient, and their relationship commitment will be measured. I hypothesize that participants in the mortality salience condition will report higher level of relationship commitment than participants in the non-mortality salience condition regardless of having the self-esteem positively or negatively enhanced. Showing that relationships act as the primary manager of terror. This study will further the literature discussing mechanisms of terror management and provide insight into people’s motivations to create and sustain close relationships.
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