The function of culturally-created symbolic systems in the reduction of death anxiety.
AuthorBurling, John William.
KeywordsFear of death -- Religious aspects.
Fear of death -- Social aspects.
Death -- Psychological aspects.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSeveral studies have attempted to assess the effects of death anxiety upon personality and behavior. However, only recently has research on this topic begun to develop a larger theoretical context within which many behaviors and intrapsychic mechanisms can be explained. The present study was conducted to test the hypothesis that people's symbolic investments, such as religious beliefs and status, are inflated when an individual is faced with events which make their personal mortality salient. Theoretically this inflation would help them buffer their anxieties about death. Subjects were selected for participation on the basis of scores on measures of status concern and religiosity, and were assigned to a mortality salience treatment or control condition. Results suggest limited support for the hypothesis. Though all predictions were not confirmed, some intriguing findings are noted. Implications of these findings are discussed.