Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Matthew L. Bernacki

Second Committee Member

CarolAnne M. Kardash

Third Committee Member

Gwen C. Marchand

Fourth Committee Member

Rachael D. Robnett

Number of Pages



The work examined whether activating a domain of a close other’s contingency of acceptance leads to more anxiety in anticipation of an evaluative performance in that domain (Study 1), and greater effort toward improving oneself in that domain (Study 2). In a between-group experimental design, contingencies of acceptance were manipulated by a guided visualization of a close other whose acceptance was perceived either as non-contingent (intrinsic), contingent on a task-irrelevant domain (physical appearance), or contingent on a task-relevant domain (competence). The effects of the acceptance contingency condition on anxiety and effort were not statistically significant. However, in Study 1, six risk factors for being vulnerable to the influence of contingencies of acceptance were identified. There was an indication of an interaction between the presence of risk factors and acceptance contingency condition. Specifically, individuals classified as at high risk of susceptibility to acceptance contingencies (but not those at low risk) reported considerably more anxiety in competence acceptance contingency condition compared to intrinsic acceptance contingency condition (d = 0.77). These results suggest that perceived potential for failure in the domain of competence may constitute a threat to one’s level of social acceptance, and that shifting an activated acceptance contingency to a domain irrelevant to the pursuit of competence may reduce anxiety about a performance evaluative of one’s competence for people vulnerable to the influence of acceptance contingencies. However, caution has to be exercised in interpreting the results due to violation of assumptions of conducted statistical significance tests.


contingencies of self-worth; intrinsic; need to belong; relational value; relationships; threat


Education | Educational Psychology | Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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