An examination of defensive accommodation to threat: exploring the conditions under which people will modify their protective beliefs

  • Author / Creator
    Hayes, Joseph
  • Although terror management research has focused extensively on defensive responses to threat such as derogation, scant research to date has assessed alternative responses. One such alternative, termed accommodation, involves accepting and incorporating parts of the threatening information into existing belief-structures. The present research assessed the effects of threat, mortality salience, and trait self-esteem on accommodation of protective beliefs. Five studies are presented showing that people will generally accommodate their worldview (Studies 1-4) and self-esteem (Study 5) beliefs in response to threat. Moreover, accommodation is found to result from the same conditions that promote derogation (Study 4), and engaging in one type of defense was found to generally reduce the tendency to engage in another (Studies 2-5). In response to worldview threat under conditions of mortality salience, only participants with low self-esteem tended to respond with accommodation. Participants with high self-esteem, by contrast, refused to accommodate (Studies 1-3) and opted instead to derogate the source of threat (Studies 2-3). Inducing people with low self-esteem to affirm an important value prior to the mortality salience manipulation produced a similar tendency to forgo accommodation in favour of derogation (Study 3). Discussion focuses on implications for terror management theory generally, with specific reference to available responses to worldview and self-esteem threat, and the role of trait self-esteem in these responses.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Goldenberg, Jamie (Psychology)
    • Fujiwara, Esther (Psychiatry)
    • Masuda, Taka (Psychology)
    • Noels, Kim (Psychology)
    • Kuiken, Don (Psychology)