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Postgraduate Thesis: Cultural influences on terror management: theroles of self-esteem, norm, and control motivation
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TitleCultural influences on terror management: theroles of self-esteem, norm, and control motivation
 
AuthorsDu, Hongfei.
杜洪飞.
 
Issue Date2012
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractTerror management theory (TMT) asserts that cultural worldviews and self-esteem help humans manage death-related concerns. To date, most of the evidence for TMT is from Western cultures which are characterized by individualism. However, cultural values and self-esteem among East Asian cultures characterized by collectivism are distinct from ones among Western cultures. It is unclear how individualist vs. collectivist cultures influence terror management mechanisms and whether TMT findings derived from Western cultures could be generalized to East Asians cultures. This research aimed to explore cultural differences and similarities in three terror management mechanisms involving self-esteem, social norm and perception of control. 825 participants were recruited from two individualist cultures (i.e., Germany, Austria) and one collectivist culture (i.e., China) in four studies. The Pilot Study validated the mortality salience paradigm among Chinese participants. Study 1 examined whether individualists and collectivists utilize different types of self-esteem to manage existential terror. Study 1A tested the correlations between death anxiety and types of self-esteem and showed a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-liking among both Chinese and Austrian participants, but a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-competence only among Austrian participants. Studies 1B and 1C tested the correlations of personal vs. relational self-esteem with death anxiety and their moderating influence on mortality salience effects. Results revealed that for the Chinese, relational self-esteem showed a stronger negative correlation with death anxiety than did personal self-esteem. It also moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. In contrast, for German participants, personal rather than relational self-esteem moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. Taken together, these findings indicate that culture determines the type of self-esteem that serves as a buffer against death anxiety. According to TMT, existential terror motivates individuals to follow social norms by which they maintain self-esteem and mitigate terror. Study 2 tested this by examining the changes in self-esteem when Chinese participants followed (or violated) the modesty norm. Results revealed that mortality salience led Chinese participants to follow the modesty norm by showing explicit self-effacement, but their implicit self-esteem also decreased. Moreover, when participants were reminded of their mortality, those who violated the norm by showing explicit self-enhancement reported higher implicit self-esteem than those who followed the norm. These findings indicate that when norm and self-esteem motives collide, following the norm engendered by mortality salience does not benefit self-esteem.
 
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
 
SubjectDeath - Psychological aspects.
Fear of death.
Self-esteem.
Social norms.
Control (Psychology)
 
Dept/ProgramEducation
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.authorDu, Hongfei.
 
dc.contributor.author杜洪飞.
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2012
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
dc.description.abstractTerror management theory (TMT) asserts that cultural worldviews and self-esteem help humans manage death-related concerns. To date, most of the evidence for TMT is from Western cultures which are characterized by individualism. However, cultural values and self-esteem among East Asian cultures characterized by collectivism are distinct from ones among Western cultures. It is unclear how individualist vs. collectivist cultures influence terror management mechanisms and whether TMT findings derived from Western cultures could be generalized to East Asians cultures. This research aimed to explore cultural differences and similarities in three terror management mechanisms involving self-esteem, social norm and perception of control. 825 participants were recruited from two individualist cultures (i.e., Germany, Austria) and one collectivist culture (i.e., China) in four studies. The Pilot Study validated the mortality salience paradigm among Chinese participants. Study 1 examined whether individualists and collectivists utilize different types of self-esteem to manage existential terror. Study 1A tested the correlations between death anxiety and types of self-esteem and showed a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-liking among both Chinese and Austrian participants, but a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-competence only among Austrian participants. Studies 1B and 1C tested the correlations of personal vs. relational self-esteem with death anxiety and their moderating influence on mortality salience effects. Results revealed that for the Chinese, relational self-esteem showed a stronger negative correlation with death anxiety than did personal self-esteem. It also moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. In contrast, for German participants, personal rather than relational self-esteem moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. Taken together, these findings indicate that culture determines the type of self-esteem that serves as a buffer against death anxiety. According to TMT, existential terror motivates individuals to follow social norms by which they maintain self-esteem and mitigate terror. Study 2 tested this by examining the changes in self-esteem when Chinese participants followed (or violated) the modesty norm. Results revealed that mortality salience led Chinese participants to follow the modesty norm by showing explicit self-effacement, but their implicit self-esteem also decreased. Moreover, when participants were reminded of their mortality, those who violated the norm by showing explicit self-enhancement reported higher implicit self-esteem than those who followed the norm. These findings indicate that when norm and self-esteem motives collide, following the norm engendered by mortality salience does not benefit self-esteem.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation
 
dc.description.thesisleveldoctoral
 
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4832985
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B4832985X
 
dc.subject.lcshDeath - Psychological aspects.
 
dc.subject.lcshFear of death.
 
dc.subject.lcshSelf-esteem.
 
dc.subject.lcshSocial norms.
 
dc.subject.lcshControl (Psychology)
 
dc.titleCultural influences on terror management: theroles of self-esteem, norm, and control motivation
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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<description.abstract>&#65279;Terror management theory (TMT) asserts that cultural worldviews and self-esteem help humans manage death-related concerns. To date, most of the evidence for TMT is from Western cultures which are characterized by individualism. However, cultural values and self-esteem among East Asian cultures characterized by collectivism are distinct from ones among Western cultures. It is unclear how individualist vs. collectivist cultures influence terror management mechanisms and whether TMT findings derived from Western cultures could be generalized to East Asians cultures.



This research aimed to explore cultural differences and similarities in three terror management mechanisms involving self-esteem, social norm and perception of control. 825 participants were recruited from two individualist cultures (i.e., Germany, Austria) and one collectivist culture (i.e., China) in four studies. The Pilot Study validated the mortality salience paradigm among Chinese participants. Study 1 examined whether individualists and collectivists utilize different types of self-esteem to manage existential terror. Study 1A tested the correlations between death anxiety and types of self-esteem and showed a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-liking among both Chinese and Austrian participants, but a negative correlation between death anxiety and self-competence only among Austrian participants. Studies 1B and 1C tested the correlations of personal vs. relational self-esteem with death anxiety and their moderating influence on mortality salience effects. Results revealed that for the Chinese, relational self-esteem showed a stronger negative correlation with death anxiety than did personal self-esteem. It also moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. In contrast, for German participants, personal rather than relational self-esteem moderated the effects of mortality salience on worldview defense. Taken together, these findings indicate that culture determines the type of self-esteem that serves as a buffer against death anxiety.



According to TMT, existential terror motivates individuals to follow social norms by which they maintain self-esteem and mitigate terror. Study 2 tested this by examining the changes in self-esteem when Chinese participants followed (or violated) the modesty norm. Results revealed that mortality salience led Chinese participants to follow the modesty norm by showing explicit self-effacement, but their implicit self-esteem also decreased. Moreover, when participants were reminded of their mortality, those who violated the norm by showing explicit self-enhancement reported higher implicit self-esteem than those who followed the norm. These findings indicate that when norm and self-esteem motives collide, following the norm engendered by mortality salience does not benefit self-esteem.</description.abstract>
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<subject.lcsh>Control (Psychology)</subject.lcsh>
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