Is It Me or Is It Mine? Body-self Integration as a Function of Self-esteem, Body-esteem, and Mortality Salience

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This research was designed to explore the extent to which the physical body is integrated into individuals' conceptualizations of self. We hypothesized that body-self integration would vary as a function of level of general self-esteem, specific self-evaluations for the body, and also mortality salience due to existential implications of the physical body's certainty of eventual death. In a neutral condition (no mortality reminder), individuals with high self-esteem were found to hold conceptualizations of the self that include the body to the extent that they had high body self-esteem, whereas individuals low in self-esteem did not exhibit these self-serving body-self representations. In addition, mortality salience led to a distancing of the self from the body, but only for people lacking the protection provided by high general or body-specific self-esteem. Our discussion focused on individual difference in low and high self-esteem and implications of bodily threats to conceptualizations for self.

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Self and Identity, v. 4, issue 3, p. 227-241