JOURNAL: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
AUTHORS: Christopher T. Burris and John K.Rempel
SUMMARY: According to amoebic self theory, the boundary defining the self encompasses 3 levels of self-representation--bodily, social, and spatial-symbolic. Study 1 related a newly developed measure of individual differences in sensitivity to boundary threat across these 3 domains to values and disgust sensitivity. Four subsequent studies focused on spatial-symbolic threat sensitivity and related it to right-wing authoritarianism, aversive reactions to unfamiliar out-groups, and revulsion to vermin. A final experiment illustrates how a salient spatial-symbolic threat (dust mites) can elicit reactions toward out-groups that closely parallel mortality salience effects observed in research inspired by terror management theory, even though dust mites do not elicit mortality concerns. The importance of preserving the familiar in order to preserve the self is discussed.
CULTURAL REFERENCE: A song by American rock band R.E.M., which appeared on their 1987 album Document
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