Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Psychology


Claire W. Lyons


Terror management theory (TMT) posits that a psychological conflict (“terror”) is created when human beings are reminded of their own mortality (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991). This experimental study examines whether the impact of mortality salience on self-esteem is moderated by individual differences in narcissism. There are two subtypes of narcissism, namely grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism. Grandiose narcissism is associated with higher self-esteem, whereas vulnerable narcissism is associated with lower self-esteem. Participants (N = 437) completed an online survey that consisted of the Rosenberg Self-esteem Inventory, the Pathological Narcissism Inventory, a mortality salience manipulation or the control task, and two manipulation check measures. Results revealed that there was no significant difference between the mortality salience condition and the control condition in the change in self-esteem (hypothesis 1), and that grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism were highly correlated (hypothesis 2). None of the variables (mortality salience, vulnerable narcissism, grandiose narcissism) are significant predictors for the change in self-esteem (hypothesis 3). Possible explanations for these findings were then discussed.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.