The relationship between defense mechanisms, trait anxiety and need for approval

Thalma E. Lobel*, Orna Kashtan, Guy L. Winch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study investigated the relationship between three personality constructs, defense mechanisms as measured by the DMI (Gleser and Ihilevich, 1969), trait anxiety, and need for approval (nApp). 92 undergraduates completed the DMI, Spielberger, Gorsuch and Lushene (1970) A-Trait scale and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability [MC-SD] scale. It was found that for females, defenses that turn anger towards others or towards the self were positively related to trait anxiety while defenses such as denial, repression, rationalization and intellectualization were negatively related to trait anxiety. No relations between defenses and A-Trait were found for males. It was also found that the approval motivated subjects reported less A-Trait as compared to low-nApp individuals and preferred to use socially desirable defenses such as repression, denying or reaction formation. Those who scored low on nApp preferred to use defenses which are less socially desirable. Gender differences in the effectiveness and social desirability of the different defenses are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987


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