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dc.contributor.supervisor Bailis, Daniel (Psychology) en_US
dc.contributor.author Giller, Tara M.T.
dc.date.accessioned 2014-09-05T20:37:02Z
dc.date.available 2014-09-05T20:37:02Z
dc.date.issued 2014-09-05
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1993/23988
dc.description.abstract Relative 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.subject Motivation en_US
dc.subject Threat en_US
dc.subject Self-determination theory en_US
dc.subject Defensiveness en_US
dc.title Defensiveness and threat across the continuum of relative autonomy en_US
dc.degree.discipline Psychology en_US
dc.contributor.examiningcommittee Johnson, Edward (Psychology) Mackenzie, Corey (Psychology) Kriellaars, Dean (Medical Rehabilitation) Hodgins, Holley (Psychology, Skidmore College) en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) en_US
dc.description.note October 2014 en_US


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