NameDohn, Matthew C. (author), Rudman, Laurie (chair), Wilder, David (internal member), Ogilvie, Daniel (internal member), Solomon, Sheldon (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School-New Brunswick,
Personality and motivation,
Fear of death
DescriptionResearch guided by Terror Management Theory (TMT; Greenberg, Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986) has provided powerful evidence that reminders of death motivate defensive behaviors designed to preserve self-esteem and buffer against the conscious awareness of personal mortality. Fascination with fame and celebrity are posited to be important within the TMT framework, as they reflect the human need for symbolic immortality, whether direct or vicarious. The present research examined three basic hypotheses. First, reminders of death should lead individuals to view fame and celebrity as particularly desirable for the self, and to greater fascination with celebrities. Second, the experience of vicarious fame should protect individuals from the threat of mortality salience, thus reducing their need to engage in terror managing worldview defensive behavior. Third, the belief that one has the potential to achieve celebrity should afford the protective worldview provided by fame and celebrity, and reduce subsequent worldview defense. Three experiments were conducted to test these hypotheses. Study 1 examined the relationship between reminders of death (mortality salience), valuing fame and celebrity for the self, and ratings of celebrity related information. Celebrity information (but not valuing fame and celebrity for the self) was viewed more favorably by individuals reminded of their death, provided they expressed anxiety. Study 2 examined whether vicarious fame might serve to reduce terror managing worldview defensive responses following mortality salience. Support for the hypothesized effect in Study 2 was not found; instead, an unexpected and opposite effect was observed, such that increased mortality salience led to decreased worldview defense. Study 3 examined whether celebrity potential would reduce worldview defensive behavior following reminders of death. This hypothesis was not supported. However, learning one has any chance of becoming a celebrity was comforting to individuals when mortality was salient. Furthermore, results from Study 1 and 3 suggest that women may value celebrity and fame more than men. Taken as a whole, the research represents an important first step in understanding the role of fame and celebrity within the Terror Management Theory framework.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p.96-103).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.