Advertisement

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
  • 120 Downloads

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Death anxiety Emerging adulthood Religiosity Spirituality 

Notes

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.

References

  1. Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55(5), 469–480.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnett, J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Athulya, J., Sudhir, P. M., & Philip, M. (2016). Procrastination, perfectionism, coping and their relation to distress and self-esteem in college students. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 42(1), 82–91.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, E. (1973). The denial of death. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cochran, C. D., & Hale, W. D. (1985). College student norms on the brief symptom inventory. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41(6), 777–779.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Collett, L. J., & Lester, D. (1969). The fear of death and the fear of dying. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 72(2), 179–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conte, H. R., Weiner, M. B., & Plutchik, R. (1982). Measuring death anxiety: Conceptual, psychometric, and factor-analytic aspects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(4), 775–785.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.43.4.775.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Creech, C. A., Handal, P. J., Worley, S. A., Pashak, T. J., Perez, E. J., & Caver, L. (2013). Changing trends in ritual attendance and spirituality throughout the college years. Psychology, 4(12), 994–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ellis, L., & Wahab, E. A. (2013). Religiosity and fear of death: A theory-oriented review of the empirical literature. Review of Religious Research, 55(1), 149–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Forst, E. C., & Healy, R. M. (1990). Relationship between self-esteem and religious faith. Psychological Reports, 67(2), 378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Greenberg, J., Arndt, J., Simon, L., Pyszczynski, T., & Solomon, S. (2000). Proximal and distal defenses in response to reminders of one’s mortality: Evidence of a temporal sequence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(1), 91–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., & Solomon, S. (1986). The causes and consequences of a need for self-esteem: A terror management theory. In R. F. Baumeister (Ed.), Public self and private self (pp. 189–212). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., Rosenblatt, A., Burling, J., Lyon, D., et al. (1992). Why do people need self-esteem? Converging evidence that self-esteem serves an anxiety-buffering function. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63(6), 913–922.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Handal, P. J. (1969). The relationship between subjective life expectancy, death anxiety and general anxiety. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 25(1), 39–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Handal, P. J. (1975). Relationship between the death anxiety scale and repression. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 31(4), 675–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Handal, P. J. (1980). Individual and group problem solving and type of orientation as a function of high, moderate, and low death anxiety. Omega Journal of Death and Dying, 10(4), 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Handal, P. J., Creech, C. A., Pashak, T. J., Caver, L., Perez, E. J. G., Schwendeman, M. G., et al. (2015a). Distinguishing between self-classified religious and spiritual emerging adults: Conceptual and operational challenges. Athens Journal of Social Sciences, 2(2), 87–98.Google Scholar
  18. Handal, P. J., Gist, D., Gilner, F. H., & Searight, H. R. (1993). Preliminary validity for the langner symptom survey and the brief symptom inventory as mass-screening instruments for adolescent adjustment. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 22(3), 382–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Handal, P. J., Peal, R. L., Napoli, J. G., & Austrin, H. R. (1984). The relationship between direct and indirect measures of death anxiety. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 15(3), 245–262.Google Scholar
  20. Handal, P. J., Peri, A., & Pashak, T. J. (2015b). Calibration of the Langner symptom survey for the college population. Current Psychology, 34, 389–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Handal, P. J., & Rychlak, J. F. (1971). Curvilinearity between dream content and death anxiety and the relationship of death anxiety to repression-sensitization. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77(1), 11–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Harmon-Jones, E., Simon, L., Greenberg, J., Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & McGregor, H. (1997). Terror management and self-esteem: Evidence that increased self-esteem reduces mortality salience effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(1), 24–36.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hatch, R. L., Burg, M. A., Naberhaus, D. S., & Hellmich, L. K. (1998). The spiritual involvement and beliefs scale: Development and testing of a new instrument. The Journal of Family Practice, 46(6), 476–486.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Herrera, M., & Sani, F. (2013). Why does ingroup identification shield people from death anxiety? The role of perceived collective continuity and group entitativity. Social Psychology, 44(5), 320–328.  https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hoelter, J. W. (1979). Multidimensional treatment of fear of death. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47(5), 996–999.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.47.5.996.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hyman, C., & Handal, P. J. (2006). Definitions and evaluation of religion and spirituality items by religious professionals: A pilot study. Journal of Religion and Health, 45(2), 264–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Iverach, L., Menzies, R. G., & Menzies, R. E. (2014). Death anxiety and its role in psychopathology: Reviewing the status of a transdiagnostic construct. Clinical Psychology Review, 34(7), 580–593.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2014.09.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Jong, J., Bluemke, M., & Halberstadt, J. (2013). Fear of death and supernatural beliefs: Developing a new supernatural belief scale to test the relationship. European Journal of Personality, 27(5), 495–506.  https://doi.org/10.1002/per.1898.Google Scholar
  29. Koenig, H. G., & Bussing, A. (2010). The Duke University religion index (DUREL): A five-item measure for use in epidemiological studies. Religions, 1(1), 78–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Langner, T. S. (1962). A twenty-two item screening score of psychiatric symptoms indicating impairment. Journal of Health and Human Behavior, 3(4), 269–276.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Lehto, R. H., & Stein, K. F. (2009). Death anxiety: An analysis of an evolving concept. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 23(1), 23–41.  https://doi.org/10.1891/1541-6577.23.1.23.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Lester, D. (1967). Experimental and correlational studies of the fear of death. Psychological Bulletin, 67(1), 27–36.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0024068.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Lester, D. (1994). The Collett-Lester fear of Death scale. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Death anxiety handbook: Research, instrumentation, and application (pp. 45–60). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  34. Lipsmeyer, M. E. (1984). The measurement of religiosity and its relationship to mental health/impairment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO.Google Scholar
  35. Livingston, P. B., & Zimet, C. N. (1965). Death anxiety, authoritarianism, and choice of specialty in medical students. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 140(3), 222–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Myers, S. A., Austrin, H. R., Grisso, J. T., & Nickeson, R. C. (1983). Personality characteristics as related to the out-of-body experience. The Journal of Parapsychology, 47, 131–144.Google Scholar
  37. Neimeyer, R. A. (Ed.). (1994a). Death anxiety handbook: Research, instrumentation, and application. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  38. Neimeyer, R. A. (1994b). Death attitudes in adult life: A closing coda. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Death anxiety handbook: Research, instrumentation, and application (pp. 263–277). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  39. O’Connor, B. P. (2000). SPSS and SAS programs for determining the number of components using parallel analysis and velicer’s MAP test. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 32(3), 396–402.  https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03200807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pallant, J. (2010). SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using the SPSS program (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  41. Peal, R. L., Handal, P. J., & Gilner, F. H. (1982). A group desensitization procedure for the reduction of death anxiety. Omega Journal of Death and Dying, 12(1), 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Peteet, B. J., Brown, C. M., Lige, Q. M., & Lanaway, D. A. (2015). Impostorism is associated with greater psychological distress and lower self-esteem for African American students. Current Psychology, 34, 154–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Piedmont, R. L. (1999). Does spirituality represent the sixth factor of personality? Spiritual transcendence and the five-factor model. Journal of Personality, 67(6), 985–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Robins, R. R., & Trzesniewski, K. H. (2005). Self-esteem development across the lifespan. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 158–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ross, K., Handal, P. J., Clark, E. M., & Vander Wal, J. S. (2009). The relationship between religion and religious coping: Religious coping as a moderator between religion and adjustment. Journal of Religion and Health, 48, 454–467.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-008-9199-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Simpson, M. A. (1980). Studying death: Problems of methodology. Death Education, 4, 139–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (2015). The worm at the core: On the role of death in life. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  48. Storch, E. A., Roberti, J. W., Lewin, A. B., Killiany, E. M., Baumeister, A. L., Bravata, E. A., et al. (2004). The duke religion index: A psychometric investigation. Pastoral Psychology, 53(2), 175–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sykes, O. (2013). Hospital for souls [Recorded by Bring Me The Horizon]. On Sempiternal [CD] Warszawa: Sony.Google Scholar
  50. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th Ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  51. Templer, D. I. (1972). Death anxiety in religiously very involved persons. Psychological Reports, 31, 361–362.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Thorson, J. A., & Powell, F. C. (1992). A revised death anxiety scale. Death Studies, 16, 507–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thorson, J. A., & Powell, F. C. (1994). A revised death anxiety scale. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Death anxiety handbook: Research, instrumentation, and application (pp. 31–43). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  54. Tolor, A., & Reznikoff, M. (1967). Relation between insight, repression-sensitization, internal-external control and death anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 426–430.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Tomer, A. (1994). Death anxiety in adult life—Theoretical perspectives. In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Death anxiety handbook: Research, instrumentation, and application (pp. 3–28). Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  56. Underwood, L. G., & Teresi, J. T. (2002). The daily spiritual experience scale: Development, theoretical description, reliability, exploratory factor analysis, and preliminary construct validity using health-related data. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24(1), 22–31.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. White, P. D., Gilner, F. H., Handal, P. J., & Napoli, J. G. (1983). A behavioral intervention for death anxiety in nurses. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 1(14), 33–42.Google Scholar
  58. White, W., & Handal, P. J. (1990). The relationship between death anxiety and mental health/distress. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 22(1), 13–24.Google Scholar
  59. Wittkowski, J. (2001). The construction of the multidimensional orientation toward dying and death inventory (MODDI-F). Death Studies, 25(6), 479–495.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  61. Yalom, I. D. (2008). Staring at the sun: Overcoming the terror of death. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations