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21.04.2018 | Original Paper

Separation of Church and Trait: Trait Death Anxiety is Universal, Distressing, and Unbuffered by Worldview in Emerging Adults

Journal of Religion and Health
Travis J. Pashak, Michelle D. Justice, Brittany R. Burns, Kari I. Lahar, Paul J. Handal, Chelsi Creech


We begin with a review of death anxiety in emerging adults and then report on a descriptive survey study using the Revised Livingston-Zimet Death Anxiety Scale (RLZDAS). Research questions dealt with the RLZDAS’ factor structure, demographic patterns, and hypothesized correlations with distress and religiosity/spirituality. We surveyed university-enrolled emerging adults (n = 706). Findings included a 3-factor solution on the RLZDAS (cognitive, repressive, and affective) and no appreciable relationships with demographic factors. Clinical symptomatology was correlated with death anxiety (r = .40), particularly cognitive death anxiety (r = .45), especially in non-believers (r = .58). Religiosity/spirituality did not buffer death anxiety, and some components were actually positively correlated. We argue that death anxiety in emerging adults is multidimensional, clinically relevant, and relatively universal and that broad notions of worldview/belief are not necessarily protective factors.

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