The effects of a self-esteem boost and mortality salience on responses to boost relevant and irrelevant worldview threats

Jamie Arndt, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

81 Scopus citations


Previous research found that raising self-esteem attenuates mortality salience effects on reactions to cultural worldview threats. The present study assessed whether raising self-esteem attenuates such effects when a target specifically threatened the dimension on which the boost was predicated. Participants (a) received positive personality feedback emphasizing likelihood of success either in their major or a different domain or neutral feedback, (b) contemplated their mortality or a control topic, and (c) evaluated targets threatening beliefs about the United States and the participant's major. Replicating earlier findings, after mortality salience, neutral feedback participants derogated the anti-U.S. target, whereas positive feedback participants did not. However, if the feedback mentioned participants' major, mortality salience led to derogation of the anti-major target, even if the feedback was positive. These findings indicate that when a target threatens a dimension on which a self-esteem boost is predicated, such a boost will not deter derogation following mortality salience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1341
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and social psychology bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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