Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Joshua Hart




sports, basketball, self-esteem, athleticism, simulation


The current study was designed to examine the effects of mortality salience (MS) and competition on risk-taking behavior in a sports-related setting as moderated by self-esteem. A basketball task was used to simulate sports risk, in which participants had the option of shooting from three lines: worth one point (least risky option), three points, and five points (riskiest option). Participants were either under the impression that they were competing with another participant or not. It was hypothesized that high self-esteem individuals, when primed with death thoughts and under the illusion of competition, would be most likely to shoot from the five point line, thus taking the greatest risk. It was also hypothesized that high self-esteem in general would positively predict risk taking. Results revealed an unpredicted gender effect, thus data were analyzed separately for male and female participants. For women but not men, self-esteem did positively predict risk-taking in the basketball task. While the original hypothesis was unconfirmed by the results, exploratory analyses, which replaced self-esteem with self-reported athleticism, exposed significant interactions between experimental conditions and athleticism for both genders.