The anxiety-buffering function of close relationships: evidence that relationship commitment acts as a terror management mechanism

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Apr;82(4):527-42.


Three studies examined the terror management function of romantic commitment. In Study 1 (N = 94), making mortality salient led to higher reports of romantic commitment on the Dimensions of Commitment Inventory (J. M. Adams & W. H. Jones, 1997) than control conditions. In Study 2 (N = 60), the contextual salience of thoughts about romantic commitment reduced the effects of mortality salience on judgments of social transgressions. In Study 3 (N = 100), the induction of thoughts about problems in romantic relationships led to higher accessibility of death-related thoughts than did the induction of thoughts about either academic problems or a neutral theme. The findings expand terror management theory, emphasizing the anxiety-buffering function of close relationships.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Altruism
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Attitude to Death
  • Biological Evolution
  • Death*
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Existentialism / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Instinct
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation
  • Self Concept*
  • Survival / psychology