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dc.contributor.supervisorBailis, Daniel (Psychology)en_US
dc.contributor.authorGiller, Tara M.T.
dc.date.accessioned2014-09-05T20:37:02Z
dc.date.available2014-09-05T20:37:02Z
dc.date.issued2014-09-05
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1993/23988
dc.description.abstractRelative autonomy describes the degree to which people connect their actions to internal values and goals, rather than external standards and expectations (Deci & Ryan, 2000). The present research examined how relative autonomy moderates defensive responses to psychological threats. The first set of studies compared the effects of negative performance feedback to negative feedback about internal aspects of the self (i.e., motivation). The latter threat was expected to be more self-relevant to higher than lower autonomy individuals, who typically do not react defensively to performance threats. In Study 1 (N = 106), having a more autonomous disposition predicted decreased positive affect in neutral and performance threat conditions, but not under motivation threat. In Study 2 (N = 165), participants having a more autonomous disposition showed a consistent desire to engage in intrinsic pursuits across all conditions, but a decreased interest in extrinsic pursuits when threatened. The second set of studies aimed to expand the spectrum of threat-responses to determine whether autonomy would predict greater commitment toward personal goals upon exposure to universally relevant threats (i.e., mortality salience, relational threat). Results of Study 3 (N =120) suggested that more autonomous participants reacted to the threat of mortality (i.e., thinking about their own demise) by planning for future goals and maintaining positive affect. Study 4 (N = 122) compared positive with negative relationship feedback and revealed that participants higher in autonomy were increasingly likely to agree with positive, and disagree with negative, feedback. Additionally, autonomy predicted consistent positive affect and sustained engagement with intrinsic pursuits. In sum, compared with individuals lower in autonomy, those higher in autonomy displayed more positive affect and eagerness to accept positive feedback under a variety of threats, including threats to motivation, relational need satisfaction, and existence as an individual. More autonomous participants distinguished themselves from less autonomous participants by sustaining their interest in existing pursuits and selectively disengaging from less intrinsic activities. Expanding on existing self-determination theory research, these results suggest that a more autonomous disposition relates to greater positivity overall and to a tendency to react to threat with focus on and discernment among personal goals.en_US
dc.language.isoengen_US
dc.rightsinfo:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.subjectMotivationen_US
dc.subjectThreaten_US
dc.subjectSelf-determination theoryen_US
dc.subjectDefensivenessen_US
dc.titleDefensiveness and threat across the continuum of relative autonomyen_US
dc.typeinfo:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis
dc.typedoctoral thesisen_US
dc.degree.disciplinePsychologyen_US
dc.contributor.examiningcommitteeJohnson, Edward (Psychology) Mackenzie, Corey (Psychology) Kriellaars, Dean (Medical Rehabilitation) Hodgins, Holley (Psychology, Skidmore College)en_US
dc.degree.levelDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)en_US
dc.description.noteOctober 2014en_US


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