Attitudes toward death and belief in afterlife: An exploratory study of the mediating roles of denomination and gender among adults in the middle and later years
This study attempted to more precisely define the multiple meanings--positive and negative--that death and afterlife hold for adult Christians in their middle and later years and the relationship of these meanings to four measures of religiosity. Moreover, the study was a first attempt to investigate how denomination might mediate adults' attitudes toward death and beliefs in afterlife.
Of 302 questionnaires administered to men and women aged 40 to 88 years, 275 were returned across three religious groups: Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Pentecostal. Results lend strong support for the role of denomination and focal support for the roles of age group and gender as mediating factors in adult attitudes toward death and afterlife. As hypothesized, intensity of belief and/or intensity of experience of God was the most salient dimension in distinguishing among religious groups.
Differences between middle aged and older adults' attitudes and beliefs are discussed in the light of Butler's notion of life review and Erikson's adult developmental stage of integrity vs. despair.