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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of the conscious self in the Meaning Maintenance Model and other theories of threat compensation Randles, Daniel


There are currently a number of competing theories of threat compensation, which attempt to explain why humans affirm schemas and cultural worldviews following events that are distressing, anomalous or unexpected. Central to many of these theories is the role affirmations play in preserving self-identity. The Meaning Maintenance Model is one threat compensation theory that does not require the self to be threatened, in that it claims any violation of expectations is threatening, even those that are not directly related to the self, nor are necessarily consciously perceived. The role of the self as a necessary mediator between the perception of threat and evoked response is empirically tested in three studies. Results show that a subliminal presentation of incoherent word pairs can produce the same type of schema affirmation seen with other explicit and implicit threatening stimuli. Furthering this, the same subliminal threat also produces changes in behaviour that are not consciously directed, in this case by increasing implicit learning ability and working memory.

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