Separation of Church and Trait: Trait Death Anxiety is Universal, Distressing, and Unbuffered by Worldview in Emerging Adults

  • Travis J. PashakEmail author
  • Michelle D. Justice
  • Brittany R. Burns
  • Kari I. Lahar
  • Paul J. Handal
  • Chelsi Creech
Original Paper


We begin with a review of death anxiety in emerging adults and then report on a descriptive survey study using the Revised Livingston-Zimet Death Anxiety Scale (RLZDAS). Research questions dealt with the RLZDAS’ factor structure, demographic patterns, and hypothesized correlations with distress and religiosity/spirituality. We surveyed university-enrolled emerging adults (n = 706). Findings included a 3-factor solution on the RLZDAS (cognitive, repressive, and affective) and no appreciable relationships with demographic factors. Clinical symptomatology was correlated with death anxiety (r = .40), particularly cognitive death anxiety (r = .45), especially in non-believers (r = .58). Religiosity/spirituality did not buffer death anxiety, and some components were actually positively correlated. We argue that death anxiety in emerging adults is multidimensional, clinically relevant, and relatively universal and that broad notions of worldview/belief are not necessarily protective factors.


Death anxiety Emerging adulthood Religiosity Spirituality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Travis J. Pashak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle D. Justice
    • 2
  • Brittany R. Burns
    • 3
  • Kari I. Lahar
    • 1
  • Paul J. Handal
    • 4
  • Chelsi Creech
    • 5
  1. 1.Saginaw Valley State UniversityUniversity CenterUSA
  2. 2.Michigan School of Professional PsychologyFarmington HillsUSA
  3. 3.Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiUSA
  4. 4.Saint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  5. 5.Regent UniversityVirginia BeachUSA

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