Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




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 was that health anxiety would moderate this effect, based on the premise that health-anxious individuals are chronically more aware of their own mortality. To test this hypothesis, the Illness _and Attitudes Scale (IAS) was administered to 65 undergraduates to determine level of health anxiety. Participants were then randomly assigned to a mortality salience or control condition. Level of worldview defense was measured by participants' reactions to pro- vs. anti-American essays. The results were analyzed using a regression model, with IAS scores standardized and treated as a continuous measure. As predicted, there was a significant IAS x Condition interaction, !(64) = 2.09, p < .05. However, the relation was in the opposite direction than hypothesized, with individuals higher in health anxiety engaging in more worldview defense after being reminded of their eventual death than did individuals lower in health anxiety. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons