Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Exploring the relationship between extrinsic contingency focus, threat and the desire for social inclusion




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Past research has shown that individuals who are low in extrinsic contingency focus (ECF) show less desire for social acceptance and are less vulnerable to the negative consequences of social rejection than high ECF individuals (e.g. Crocker, 2003). It has also been shown that low ECF individuals will express reactance to salient social standards in an effort to reassert their autonomy (Williams et al., 2010). Thus, it appears that social approval is much less central to the self-worth of low ECF individuals than to high ECF individuals. Despite these differences, the extent to which ECF is predictive of the extent that people seek social connectivity has not been investigated experimentally. Two studies explored the relationship between ECF, the presence or absence of social threat and the desire for social connectivity. In the first study, participants experienced threat via a death prime and were told they would be engaging in a social interaction with another individual. Results showed that when mortality salient, individuals who were low in ECF chose to sit further away from others than those who were high in ECF. In the second study, we examined the extent to which ECF predicted levels of death thought accessibility (DTA; an indicator of existential anxiety) following either a social exclusion or neutral prime. Our results showed that social exclusion led to lower levels of DTA among low (vs. high) ECF participants. Together, these results suggest that avoidance of others may serve a defensive function for low ECF individuals.

Conference Name

The 12th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Conference Location

San Antonio, TX

This document is currently not available here.