Date of Award

12-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

David K. Marcus

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Tammy D. Barry

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Chris Barry

Committee Member 3 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Virgil Zeigler-Hill

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Abstract

Research generated from Terror Management Theory has demonstrated that reminding participants of their eventual death increases self-esteem striving and worldview defense (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, Solomon, Arndt, & Schimel, 2004). The hypothesis in the present study is that individuals higher in emotion dysregulation will engage in higher levels of worldview defense than those lower in emotion dysregulation. This hypothesis was based on the assumption that individuals high in emotion dysregulation will have a greater need to regulate their emotions by engaging in worldview defense after being asked to think about their own death than will non-emotionally dysregulated individuals. To test this hypothesis, 110 undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to a mortality salience or control condition. All participants completed the Differences in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). Level of worldview defense was measured by participants’ reactions to pro- vs. anti-American essays. The results were analyzed using a regression model, with DERS scores standardized and treated as a continuous measure. The overall regression model was not significant. The regression model was non-significant when condition was entered alone in the first step of the regression equation and remained non-significant when DERS scores were entered into the second step. Exploratory analyses examined the moderating role of neuroticism and extraversion; neither significantly moderated the relation between mortality salience and worldview defense. Possible reasons for a failure to achieve a main effect for condition, such as possible experimenter or sample characteristics, are explored. Possible reasons why emotion dysregulation did not moderate the association between mortality salience and worldview defense included failure to achieve a main effect of condition, the possibility that people high in emotion dysregulation “checked-out” of the study when they began feeling emotional distress, or that emotion dysregulation is simply unrelated to worldview defense following mortality reminders. Future research could explore whether extraversion moderates the relation between mortality salience and worldview defense if and when a main effect of condition is present.

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