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Religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety among older adult British Christians and Chinese Buddhists: afterlife beliefs, psychosocial maturity and regret management

Religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety among older adult British Christians and Chinese Buddhists: afterlife beliefs, psychosocial maturity and regret management
Religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety among older adult British Christians and Chinese Buddhists: afterlife beliefs, psychosocial maturity and regret management
Religion was proposed to account for the relatively low personal death anxiety found among older adults. This dissertation sought to examine the influence of religious afterlife beliefs, religiously enhanced psychosocial maturity and religious management of a past major regret on personal death anxiety in later life. Terror Management Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory were used to describe these three religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety in later life. The cross-sectional postal survey samples consisted of 143 older adult British Christians and 141 older adult Chinese Buddhists. Structural Equation Modelling results from the British Christian survey study showed that intrinsic religiosity predicted lower personal death anxiety through: (a) fostering more benign afterlife beliefs; (b) enhancing psychosocial maturity; and (c) promoting emotional stability. No significant relationship between belief in reincarnation and personal death anxiety was found in the Chinese Buddhist survey study. Both survey studies failed to support the personal death anxiety buffering power of religious management of a past major life regret, although some religious coping strategies were associated with lower negative emotional appraisal towards the major life regret among older adults. The British survey study has been the first to demonstrate both the personal death anxiety buffering and psychosocial maturity enhancing power of religion in an increasingly secular society. The lack of relationship between Buddhist reincarnation beliefs and personal death anxiety suggests that not all religious afterlife beliefs have death anxiety buffering power as proposed by Terror Management Theory. The development of Buddhist reincarnation belief and Buddhist coping scales is a pioneering step towards developing research on under-explored Eastern non-theistic afterlife beliefs and coping measures. Implications for ways that help religious older adults cope with their personal death anxiety were discussed. Prospective cross cultural and cross-religion studies were recommended to replicate the present survey findings. Finally, self detachment (self negation) was proposed as the basis of an alternative death transcendence theory to be researched in future studies on personal death anxiety.
Hui, Victoria Ka-Ying
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Hui, Victoria Ka-Ying
7c793694-7686-4910-b01d-a9ceb98092e8
Coleman, Peter
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Sedikides, Constantine
9d45e66d-75bb-44de-87d7-21fd553812c2
Woods, Bob
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Gregg, Aiden
1b03bb58-b3a5-4852-a177-29e4f633b063
Spreadbury, John
02ec749d-6533-4c38-96a6-682b23a74001
Bond, Michael Harris
e423774c-ceba-43c8-9a57-16db066a0b86
Addington-Hall, Julia
87560cc4-7562-4f9b-b908-81f3b603fdd8
Richardson, Alison
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Hui, Victoria Ka-Ying (2012) Religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety among older adult British Christians and Chinese Buddhists: afterlife beliefs, psychosocial maturity and regret management. University of Southampton, School of Psychology, Doctoral Thesis, 301pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Religion was proposed to account for the relatively low personal death anxiety found among older adults. This dissertation sought to examine the influence of religious afterlife beliefs, religiously enhanced psychosocial maturity and religious management of a past major regret on personal death anxiety in later life. Terror Management Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory were used to describe these three religious pathways to coping with personal death anxiety in later life. The cross-sectional postal survey samples consisted of 143 older adult British Christians and 141 older adult Chinese Buddhists. Structural Equation Modelling results from the British Christian survey study showed that intrinsic religiosity predicted lower personal death anxiety through: (a) fostering more benign afterlife beliefs; (b) enhancing psychosocial maturity; and (c) promoting emotional stability. No significant relationship between belief in reincarnation and personal death anxiety was found in the Chinese Buddhist survey study. Both survey studies failed to support the personal death anxiety buffering power of religious management of a past major life regret, although some religious coping strategies were associated with lower negative emotional appraisal towards the major life regret among older adults. The British survey study has been the first to demonstrate both the personal death anxiety buffering and psychosocial maturity enhancing power of religion in an increasingly secular society. The lack of relationship between Buddhist reincarnation beliefs and personal death anxiety suggests that not all religious afterlife beliefs have death anxiety buffering power as proposed by Terror Management Theory. The development of Buddhist reincarnation belief and Buddhist coping scales is a pioneering step towards developing research on under-explored Eastern non-theistic afterlife beliefs and coping measures. Implications for ways that help religious older adults cope with their personal death anxiety were discussed. Prospective cross cultural and cross-religion studies were recommended to replicate the present survey findings. Finally, self detachment (self negation) was proposed as the basis of an alternative death transcendence theory to be researched in future studies on personal death anxiety.

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More information

Published date: April 2012
Organisations: University of Southampton, Social Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 341945
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/341945
PURE UUID: 396e0ecd-16ba-4baf-bd8c-8f4da6393bb6
ORCID for Alison Richardson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3127-5755

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Nov 2012 11:16
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:34

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Contributors

Author: Victoria Ka-Ying Hui
Thesis advisor: Peter Coleman
Thesis advisor: Constantine Sedikides
Thesis advisor: Bob Woods
Thesis advisor: Aiden Gregg
Thesis advisor: John Spreadbury
Thesis advisor: Michael Harris Bond
Thesis advisor: Julia Addington-Hall
Thesis advisor: Alison Richardson ORCID iD

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