Terror Management and Adults' Attachment to Their Parents: The Safe Haven Remains

Cathy R. Cox, Jamie Arndt, Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg, Abdolhossein Abdollahi, Sheldon Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations

Abstract

Six studies examined the role of young adults' parental attachment in terror management. Studies 1-3 revealed that activating thoughts of one's parent in response to mortality salience (MS) reduced death-thought accessibility and worldview defense and increased feelings of self-worth. Studies 4-5 demonstrated that MS led to greater ease of recalling positive maternal interactions and greater difficulty recalling negative interactions, and increased attraction to a stranger who was described as being similar to one's parent. If reliance on parents for terror management purposes reflects the operation of attachment mechanisms, then such effects should vary on the basis of an individual's attachment style. Study 6 demonstrated that, after MS, insecure individuals were more likely to rely on relationships with their parents, whereas secure individuals were more likely to rely on relationships with romantic partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-717
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume94
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Keywords

  • adult attachment
  • close relationships
  • mortality salience
  • parents
  • terror management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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