In the Shadow of Death: Religious Hope as a Moderator of the Effects of Age on Death Anxiety

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Krause, Neal, K. Pargament, and G. Ironson. Forthcoming. "In the Shadow of Death: Religious Hope as a Moderator of the Effects of Age on Death Anxiety." Journals of Gerontology Series B-Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Objectives:The purpose of this study is to see whether feelings of death anxiety are lower among older than among younger people. In addition, an effort is made to see whether religious hope explains this relationship. It is proposed that the inverse relationship between a religiously oriented sense of hope and death anxiety increases across successively older age-groups. In contrast, it is hypothesized that the relationship between a generalized sense of hope and death anxiety will not vary across successively older age-groups. Method: Data on religious hope, a general sense of hope, and death anxiety were obtained from a recent nationwide survey of people aged 18 and older (N = 2,783). Results: The findings suggest that, compared with older adults, feelings of death anxiety are higher among younger and middle-aged people. The results further reveal that a religious sense of hope, but not a general sense of hope, reduces feelings of death anxiety across successively older age-groups. Discussion: These findings suggest that a previously unexamined dimension of religion (i.e., religious hope) may help people cope with feelings of death anxiety.

DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbw039 (Full Text)

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