Title

Losing My Religion: The Problem with Terror Management Theory in Religious Samples

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Psychology

Minor

Biology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Jana Hackathorn

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Religion is often used as a coping mechanism for adverse events (Pargament & Raiya; 2007). The effects lead to both lower death anxiety and higher acceptance of death (Park & Cohen; 1993). Though that effect is positive in life, it hinders effects traditionally found in studies of terror management theory which relies on the effects of death salience to reveal and amplify core beliefs (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon; 1997). In highly religious samples the effects of terror management may not occur due to the coping mechanism that religion provides.

To determine the existence of this effect, we examined the mediating effect of religion. In a traditional TMT paradigm, a third experimental group that focused on the spiritual afterlife, was added. Additionally, state and trait self-esteem, centrality and acceptance of religiosity, death anxiety, and death acceptance were measured.

It is expected that the experimental group focusing on the spiritual afterlife will have lower levels of death anxiety and higher levels of death acceptance while the physical death group will have the opposite effect. We also hypothesize that centrality of religion along with both state and trait self-esteem will mediate death anxiety and acceptance. Furthermore, we expect to find an effect between groups on the acceptance of religiosity.

Data is currently being collected. Preliminary analyses reveal an inherent issue with terror management theory in religious samples. Results will be discussed in depth.

Affiliations

Psychology: Projects in Progress, Sigma Xi Poster Competition--ONLY

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Losing My Religion: The Problem with Terror Management Theory in Religious Samples

Religion is often used as a coping mechanism for adverse events (Pargament & Raiya; 2007). The effects lead to both lower death anxiety and higher acceptance of death (Park & Cohen; 1993). Though that effect is positive in life, it hinders effects traditionally found in studies of terror management theory which relies on the effects of death salience to reveal and amplify core beliefs (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon; 1997). In highly religious samples the effects of terror management may not occur due to the coping mechanism that religion provides.

To determine the existence of this effect, we examined the mediating effect of religion. In a traditional TMT paradigm, a third experimental group that focused on the spiritual afterlife, was added. Additionally, state and trait self-esteem, centrality and acceptance of religiosity, death anxiety, and death acceptance were measured.

It is expected that the experimental group focusing on the spiritual afterlife will have lower levels of death anxiety and higher levels of death acceptance while the physical death group will have the opposite effect. We also hypothesize that centrality of religion along with both state and trait self-esteem will mediate death anxiety and acceptance. Furthermore, we expect to find an effect between groups on the acceptance of religiosity.

Data is currently being collected. Preliminary analyses reveal an inherent issue with terror management theory in religious samples. Results will be discussed in depth.