Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Aaron Wichman (Director), Dr. Amy Brausch, and Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Previous research has demonstrated that self-affirmation via values affirmations seem to buffer the self against perceived threats (Steele, 1988). An example of such a threat is opposing worldviews regarding civil liberties in counterterrorism policies. The present study uses the threat of worldview opposition in regards to counterterrorism policies in conjunction with an experimental induction of mortality salience to explore whether self-affirmation can attenuate increases in worldview defense following mortality salience. It was hypothesized that mortality salience would increase worldview defense, but that self-affirmation would decrease worldview defense following exposure to a worldview threat. When extremity of attitudes toward civil liberties in counterterrorism policies were considered in analyses, results indicated an interaction of self-affirmation and mortality salience, such that self-affirmation decreased worldview defense in participants in the mortality salience condition if they expressed extreme civil liberty attitudes. Results suggest that self-affirmation and mortality salience interact to predict worldview defense in those who care about civil liberties in counterterrorism policies. This study provides qualified theoretical support for self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988). More research on the topic of self-affirmation and civil liberty attitudes is needed.


Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology