Love You to Death: The Effects of Mortality Salience based on Attachment Style 

Yvonne Gaytan, Tori Wolf, Isabella Valdez, Adrian Corona and Dr. Melissa Soenke 


Terror Management Theory states that humans’ unique awareness of death creates the necessity for systems to protect them from the anxiety that this can cause.  People use three different systems in order to protect themselves and their thoughts: 1) participating in cultural worldviews; 2) self-esteem; and 3) close interpersonal relationships (Pyszczynski et al., 2021). By following these systems, people tend to create a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives’ and even achieve a sense of longevity and even immortality.  Research has shown that reminders of death increase people’s interest in and need for close relationships, and individuals with a secure attachment style are more likely to successfully use their relationships to defend themselves from concerns about death.  This study looks at one unique type of relationship: peer relationships.  The purpose of this study is to examine how peer relationships can function to protect people from concerns about death and how attachment style impacts this relationship.  To investigate this, participants will be recruited from CSUCI Psychology courses through the SONA system and will be awarded course credit or extra credit for participation.  Participants will complete an online survey using Qualtrics.  We will measure participants’ attachment style, and randomly assign them to a reminder of death, or a control topic, and also to write about a close peer relationship, or an acquaintance.  We will then measure participants’ death thought accessibility (DTA), their unconscious thoughts about death, using a word completion task.  Participants completed partially formed words that could be completed with a death related or neutral word, for example, the word fragment beginning with DE_ _ can be completed as either DEED or DEAD.  Participants with higher DTA are more likely to complete more words with death related words. 


Session 3 – 4:30p.m. – 5:45p.m.

Room C – Sierra 2411

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *