Mark Blades

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Vail, Kenneth

Subject Headings

Experimental Psychology, Psychology, Social Psychology


Terror management theory posits that when people are primed with thoughts of death, they will seek to abide by their cultural worldview beliefs. For example, mortality reminders motivate those with an extrinsic goal orientation to strive to accomplish culturally valued goals (e.g., wealth) and defend familiar cultural worldviews. But, as of yet, no research has investigated the possibility that MS might motivate those with an intrinsic goal orientation to strive instead to explore culturally, socially, or intellectually novel experiences and information. The present research hypothesized that MS would lead individuals with stronger extrinsic goal orientations to defensively prefer their familiar cultural views, yet motivate people oriented toward intrinsic goals to engage those growth-oriented goals by becoming more open-minded toward exploring novel cultural information. Goal orientations were assessed (via the Aspirations Index, Kasser & Ryan, 1996), the awareness of mortality (vs. control condition) was manipulated, and then participants indicated interest in being exposed to foreign (vs. domestic) films. However, results indicated that goal orientations did not interact with mortality salience to predict interest in the films. Possible explanations are discussed.

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