The Autonomic Physiology of Terror Management: Investigating the Effects of Self-esteem on Vagal Tone

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/193965
Title:
The Autonomic Physiology of Terror Management: Investigating the Effects of Self-esteem on Vagal Tone
Author:
Martens, Andy
Issue Date:
2005
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Theory and research suggests a link between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone (parasympathetic nervous system influence on the heart). A literature review suggests that vagal tone protects the body against physiological threat responding (e.g., sympathetic responding) and that vagal tone is highest when we feel secure. Terror management theory posits that humans, who live in a largely symbolic world, derive feelings of security and protection from threat by way of acquiring and maintaining self-esteem. Thus we hypothesized that if vagal tone provides physiological security, and we derive a sense of security through symbolic means by way of self-esteem, then high or increased self-esteem should lead to high or increased vagal tone. To test this hypothesis we conducted two studies in which we manipulated self-esteem by giving participants positive or negative feedback. We predicted that positive feedback would lead to higher vagal tone than negative feedback. Consistent with these predictions, in both studies we found indications that positive feedback increased vagal tone relative to negative feedback. In Study 2, to more fully test our theoretical perspective we induced threat by leading participants to believe they would receive electric shocks. We predicted that both self-esteem and vagal tone would buffer against sympathetic threat responding. Consistent with our model we found that the positive feedback eliminated the sympathetic response to threat of shock that was elicited in the negative feedback condition. Also consistent with our model, higher vagal tone predicted lower sympathetic responding to threat of shock. We discuss future directions for this research and implications for physical health.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
self-esteem; vagal tone; autonomic nervous system; Terror Managment Theory
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Psychology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Greenberg, Jeff

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleThe Autonomic Physiology of Terror Management: Investigating the Effects of Self-esteem on Vagal Toneen_US
dc.creatorMartens, Andyen_US
dc.contributor.authorMartens, Andyen_US
dc.date.issued2005en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractTheory and research suggests a link between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone (parasympathetic nervous system influence on the heart). A literature review suggests that vagal tone protects the body against physiological threat responding (e.g., sympathetic responding) and that vagal tone is highest when we feel secure. Terror management theory posits that humans, who live in a largely symbolic world, derive feelings of security and protection from threat by way of acquiring and maintaining self-esteem. Thus we hypothesized that if vagal tone provides physiological security, and we derive a sense of security through symbolic means by way of self-esteem, then high or increased self-esteem should lead to high or increased vagal tone. To test this hypothesis we conducted two studies in which we manipulated self-esteem by giving participants positive or negative feedback. We predicted that positive feedback would lead to higher vagal tone than negative feedback. Consistent with these predictions, in both studies we found indications that positive feedback increased vagal tone relative to negative feedback. In Study 2, to more fully test our theoretical perspective we induced threat by leading participants to believe they would receive electric shocks. We predicted that both self-esteem and vagal tone would buffer against sympathetic threat responding. Consistent with our model we found that the positive feedback eliminated the sympathetic response to threat of shock that was elicited in the negative feedback condition. Also consistent with our model, higher vagal tone predicted lower sympathetic responding to threat of shock. We discuss future directions for this research and implications for physical health.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectself-esteemen_US
dc.subjectvagal toneen_US
dc.subjectautonomic nervous systemen_US
dc.subjectTerror Managment Theoryen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplinePsychologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGreenberg, Jeffen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGreenberg, Jeffen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberStone, Jeffen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberAllen, John J.B.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSchmader, Tonien_US
dc.identifier.proquest1288en_US
dc.identifier.oclc137354829en_US
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