Of trophies and pillars: Exploring the terror management functions of short-term and long-term relationship partners

Spee Kosloff, Jeff L Greenberg, Daniel L Sullivan, David Weise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Prior terror management research shows that mortality salience (MS) motivates both self-esteem striving and worldview bolstering. The present research examined these processes in the context of dating preferences. It was hypothesized that in short-term romantic contexts, MS-induced self-esteem striving motivates interest in dating a physically attractive other, whereas in long-term romantic contexts, MS-induced motives for worldview validation heighten interest in dating a same-religion other. Study 1 showed that in a short-term dating context, MS increased preference for an attractive but religiously dissimilar person, whereas in a long-term dating context, MS increased preference for a religiously similar, less attractive person. Study 2 clarified that MS motivates preference for attractive short-term partners for their self-enhancing properties rather than their potential sexual availability. Study 3 supported the theorized processes, showing that under MS, self-esteem-relevant constructs became spontaneously accessible in short-term dating contexts, whereas worldview-relevant constructs became spontaneously accessible in long-term dating contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1051
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Volume36
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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Mortality
Self Concept
Religion
Research

Keywords

  • Long-term relationships
  • Self-esteem
  • Short-term relationships
  • Terror management
  • Worldview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Prior terror management research shows that mortality salience (MS) motivates both self-esteem striving and worldview bolstering. The present research examined these processes in the context of dating preferences. It was hypothesized that in short-term romantic contexts, MS-induced self-esteem striving motivates interest in dating a physically attractive other, whereas in long-term romantic contexts, MS-induced motives for worldview validation heighten interest in dating a same-religion other. Study 1 showed that in a short-term dating context, MS increased preference for an attractive but religiously dissimilar person, whereas in a long-term dating context, MS increased preference for a religiously similar, less attractive person. Study 2 clarified that MS motivates preference for attractive short-term partners for their self-enhancing properties rather than their potential sexual availability. Study 3 supported the theorized processes, showing that under MS, self-esteem-relevant constructs became spontaneously accessible in short-term dating contexts, whereas worldview-relevant constructs became spontaneously accessible in long-term dating contexts.",
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