How does threat affect different types of people? Investigating a relationship between Big-Five personality and self-concept, and how threat may affect a self-concept network
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2020
In this exploratory project, we aim to draw connections between Big-5 personality, threat, and self-concept. In the experiment, participants first completed the Big-5 inventory of personality measuring openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, five mostly independent traits that form a broad picture of personality (John et al., 2008; John et al., 1991; Benet-Martinez & John, 1998). Next, participants were randomly assigned to a threat or non-threat condition. Threat was manipulated using mortality salience, a prompt in which participants were asked to write specifically about their bodily reaction to death, a domain non-specific threat (Rosenblatt et al., 1989). After the threat manipulation, self-concept measures were administered. Self-concept has been operationalized here as a network, adapting research on social networks to a self- and identity-based model. The self-concept network is created by having participants list 15 personal identities, rate each identity's importance, and then determine how related each identity is to the others. Similar to a social network, clusters emerge that determine which identities are most important to the self. During data coding, each of these identities were rated by two judges blind to condition as either agentic or communal. No significant results were found for threat as a main effect and for personality as a moderator of the relationship between threat and identities. However, people significantly listed more agentic identities than communal, and more agentic identities and higher agentic importance were marginally correlated with higher self-concept clarity and positive affect, possibly suggesting more comfort in understanding more self-focused identities. There was also a marginally significant increase in perceived importance of all identities and marginally significant increase in agentic identities after threat. In future research, we would like to replicate this research with more participants, different threat manipulations, more focused independent variables, and also explore differences in how people rate their own identities.
Academic Major: Psychology