Controlling self and others: A theory of anxiety, mental control, and social control

Susan T. Fiske, Beth Morling, Laura E. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


This address integrates social and personality variables by studying the impact of social structure on basic human motivations and anxiety. When situations threaten the ability to meet basic human needs, people become anxious and attempt to restore control. Social structures of power threaten people's sole control over meeting basic needs for competence, self-esteem, and a benevolent world. Depending on the need under threat, people may cope with their anxiety in different ways. For example, anxiety over different threatened needs may cause powerless people either to be hypervigilant toward those in power or to discount negative information about them and align with them. Just as people who are anxious because of social powerlessness may attempt to restore control by social cognitive processes, trait-anxious people may attempt to restore control by their impression formation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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