Attachment, Self-Esteem, Worldviews, and Terror Management:Evidence for a Tripartite Security System

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attachment; self-esteem; worldviews; terror management; tripartite security system; attachment theory; terror management theory

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On the basis of prior work integrating attachment theory and terror management theory, the authors propose a model of a tripartite security system consisting of dynamically interrelated attachment, self-esteem, and worldview processes. Four studies are presented that, combined with existing evidence, support the prediction derived from the model that threats to one component of the security system result in compensatory defensive activation of other components. Further, the authors predicted and found that individual differences in attachment style moderate the defenses. In Studies 1 and 2, attachment threats motivated worldview defense among anxiously attached participants and motivated self-enhancement (especially among avoidant participants), effects similar to those caused by mortality salience. In Studies 3 and 4, a worldview threat and a self-esteem threat caused attachment-related proximity seeking among fearful participants and avoidance of proximity among dismissing participants. The authors' model provides an overarching framework within which to study attachment, self-esteem, and worldviews.

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, v. 88, issue 6, p. 999-1013