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Death Anxiety

Correlates Of Death Anxiety

Although there are exceptions, it is possible to summarize the association between death anxiety and several demographic and experiential factors. For instance, both gender and age are often related to death anxiety. Females tend to report higher death anxiety than males, and a negative relationship is often seen between age and death anxiety. Younger populations (primarily high school and college age students) tend to report higher levels of death anxiety than elderly persons. The reasons for these differences are not clear.

The effect of contact or experience with death is not straightforward. On the one hand, some workers, such as firefighters and police, whose duties places them at heightened risk for injury and death may have heightened concerns or thoughts about death, which is realistic given their jobs. On the other hand, those working directly with dying or bereaved individuals, such as physicians, nurses, funeral directors, or hospice and AIDS volunteers, do not, as a rule, demonstrate heightened death anxiety and may, in fact, show greater sensitivity and acceptance of death than other groups. Bereavement does not seem to have any direct impact one way or another on feelings about death.

As one might expect, religion and death have often been studied together. Belief in an afterlife or having a religious affiliation seems to have no specific effect on death anxiety, however, though one's religious orientation is important. Individuals whose religious and spiritual beliefs have been internalized, and therefore have an influence on their general behavior, values, and personal world view (a construct often identified as intrinsic religiosity) tend to report less death anxiety, while those whose religion serves a more social than ideological function (called extrinsic religiosity) report greater death anxiety.

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