Peer death experiences: Mortality salience and perceptions of closeness with deceased friends and classmates
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Type of Work43 pages
Jiang, Chou, and Tsai (2006) suggest that the death of same-aged peers strikes “closer to home” emotionally than the death of an individual of a different age. The current study examined how experiencing the death of a peer (reported as either a Friend or a Classmate) affects Death Anxiety and Death Obsession, two elements of mortality salience, and how reported level of Closeness to the peer affected these elements. Additional analyses focused on gender differences and manner of peer death (terminal illness, suicide, or accident). A total of 1575 University students answered online questions related to their own experiences with the death of someone in their life as well as measures assessing their current level of mortality salience. Maltby and Day’s (2000) Death Obsession Scale (DOS) has three parts (Rumination, Dominance and Idea Repetition) and “measure(s) a preoccupation with death, impulses and persistent ideas regarding death” (p. 696). The DOS complements research working with the Death Anxiety Scale (DAS; Templer, 1970), which assesses apprehension and fear of death. Contrary to hypothesis, reported death of a Friend was related to neither expressed Death Anxiety nor Death Obsession and its subtypes. Reported death of a Classmate was linked to lower death Rumination. Overall Closeness to deceased Friends was negatively correlated with Death Anxiety, while Closeness to deceased Classmates was positively correlated with Death Obsession variables. Also contrary to hypothesis, males report significantly higher degrees of Closeness to deceased peers than do females. No statistical differences were found in degrees of mortality salience for different manners of peer death. Results suggest that the degree of Closeness felt to a peer increases thought on the matter but not in a manner that is explicitly anxiety inducing, and that the experience of a peer dying overall rather than the details of such an experience are most affecting for surviving individuals.
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