Citation
Reduction in death threat as a basis for optimal functioning

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Title:
Reduction in death threat as a basis for optimal functioning the test of a central existential hypothesis
Creator:
Rigdon, Michael A., 1944- ( Dissertant )
Epting, Franz R. ( Thesis advisor )
Froming, William J. ( Reviewer )
Miller, Scott A. ( Reviewer )
Wass, Hannelore L. ( Reviewer )
Suchman, David I. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1982
Language:
English
Physical Description:
viii, 135 leaves ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Anxiety ( jstor )
Cognitive psychology ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Fear ( jstor )
Ordination ( jstor )
Personality psychology ( jstor )
Psychology ( jstor )
Questionnaires ( jstor )
Sex linked differences ( jstor )
Universities ( jstor )
Death -- Psychological aspects ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Psychology -- UF ( lcsh )
Psychology thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
Based on a review of previous research, a significant relationship was predicted between death orientation and optimal functioning, both conceptualized in multidimensional terms. Hypotheses are drawn from existential philosophy and from personal construct psychology to suggest that resolving the issue of personal mortality enables a person to live a more intense, meaningful life. In operational terms, optimal functioning depends on one's positive orientation toward death. Selected components of death education courses, therefore, were predicted to result in more positive death orientation and more optimal functioning. Participants in the study were 96 undergraduate psychology students. In the first experimental session, they completed four questionnaires and participated in the experimental condition to which each group was randomly assigned: completing an obituary/biography, writing a farewell letter, or, for the control group, participating in a stress management experience. The questionnaires included a personal data questionnaire, a slightly modified form of the Threat Index (TI) , the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) , and the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FD) The TI was modified for scoring two differentiation and two integration indices. Using 13-point scales, participants rated "self" , "my own death" , and 10 death-related elements on 30 dimensions related to death. For the second session, 95 participants returned to complete again the final three questionnaires listed above. The results indicated a significant relationship between positive death orientation and the optimal functioning variable with some differences in the pattern of this relationship for males and for females. Multivariate analyses of variance fail to support the impact of the death-related experiences on death orientation or optimal functioning, perhaps because the select experiences were not strong enough to affect either complex, stable attitudes toward death or a person's overall optimal functioning level. Results of post hoc analyses revealed significantly more negative death orientation for females, as well as the significant association of strong religious beliefs and practices wit' positive death orientation. Discussion focused on strengths and limitations of the investigation and presented implications for psychotherapy and for research in the areas of death orientation and optimal functioning.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 124-134).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Michael A. Rigdon.

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
028819774 ( AlephBibNum )
09460253 ( OCLC )
ABW4264 ( NOTIS )

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REDUCTION IN DELTH THREAT
AS A BASIS FOR OPTIn4,L FUZTCTIONIING:
THE TEST OF A CENTRAL EXISTENTIAL HYPOTHESIS



I
BY


MICHAEL A. RIGDON




























A DISSBRTATION PPESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
PARTIAL FULFhLMENT OF THE REQUIREKENTS FOR THE
DEGR-ek OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY Of FLORIDA

1982













ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


From the beginning of this project to its completion,

many people supported me. I could not have done it without

their help.

I am grateful to Franz Epting for being my mentor during

the past six years. I am grateful to Bill Froming, Scott

Miller, Dave Suchman, and Hannelore Wass, each of whom made

a unique contribution to my development as a psychological

researcher/practitioner. I am grateful to Wayne Senfeld,

Lisa Spear, and Mart Thurmond, who persistently and enthusi-

astically helped collect and code nearly one thousand data

points for each participant. I am graceful to Imogene and

Mary Lisa, my wife and daughter, who gave me the time and

energy to continue and who withstood my disagreeable moods.














TABLE OF CONTENTS


ACKIOWLEDGEMENTS .

LIST OF TABLES.

ABSTRACT. .. ..


CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION . . . . . .

Death Orientation . . . . . . .

Optimal Functioning . . . . . . .
Maslow's Model of the Self-Actualizing Person
Landsman's Beautiful and Noble Person . .
Frankl's Model of a Meaningful Life . . .
Coan's Model of the Optimal Personality . .
Kelly's Model of Optimal Functioning. . .

Empirical Studies on the Correlation of Death
Attitudes and Psychological Health. . . .
Tendencies toward Neurosis or Depression. .
General Anxiety and Other Indicators of
Maladjustment . . . . . . .


An Existential Hypothesis. . . . . .

A Personal Construct View. . . . . .

Rationale and Hypotheses . . . . . .
The Complexity of Death Orientation and
Optimal Functioning. . . . . . .
Two Experimental Hypotheses . . . .


CHAPTER II: METHOD . . . . . . . .

Subjects . . . . . . . . . .

Instruments . . . . . . . . .
Threat Index (TI) . . . . . . .
The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS).
The Purpose in Life Test (PIL) . . .
The Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ) . .
Procedure . . . . . . . . .
First Session . . . . . . . .
Second Session . . . . . . .


iii


Page

. . . . . . ii

. . . . . . v
. . . . . .
vii


. '. 34

. . 37

. . 41

. . 42
. . 45


. . 49

. . 49

. . 49
. . 49









CHAPTER III: RESULTS . . . . . . . .

Instrument Reliability . . . . . . .

First Hypothesis . . . . . . . .
Canonical Correlation Analyses . . . .
Multivariate Analyses of Variance . . .
Multiple Regression Analyses . . . .

Second Hypothesis . . . . . . .

Third Hypothesis . . . . . . . .

Additional Analyses . . . . . . .
Religious Beliefs and Practices . . . .
Previous Experience with Death and Dying. .
Alternative Scores for the Threat Index . .

CHAPTER IV: DISCUSSION . . . . . . .

Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning
Relationship . . . . . . . .

Effectiveness of the Death-related Experiences .

Strengths and Limitations of the Present Study

Implications for Psychotherapy and for
Future Research . . . . . . . .

APPENDIX A: THE THREAT INDEX . . . . . .

APPENDIX B: THE COLLETT-LESTER FEAR OF DEATH SCALE

APPENDIX C: THE PERSONAL DATA QUESTIONNAIRE. . .

APPENDIX D: PARTICIPANT INFORMiED CONSENT FORM. .

APPENDIX E: OBITUARY/BIOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE. . .

APPENDIX F: FAREWELL LETTER EXPERIENCE . . .

APPENDIX G: STRESS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE . . .

REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . .

Bi.OGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .


Page

. . 59

. . 59

. . 62
. .. 63
* . 69
* . 71

. . 75

. . 84

. . 87
. . 89
. . 91
* . 93

* . 97


. . 97

. . 101

. . 103


. . 108

. . 113

S. 115

. . 117

. . 119

* . 120

* . 122

* . 123

* . 124

* . 135













LIST OF TABLES



Table Page

I Intercorrelations of Pretest Scores on
Four FDS Subscales for All Participants. 61

2 Post Hoc Tests of Differences between
Pretest and Posttest Mean Scores on
Differentiation and Integration Indices . . 61

3 Pretest Intercorrelations between Indices
of Differentiation and Integration . . . 64

4 Canonical Correlation Analyses of Pretest
Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning
Scores for All Participants . . . . . 66

5 Manova Summary Table for Pretest Death
Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores .67

6 Analysis of Variance of Death Orientation
and Optimal Functioning Scores for Sex
Differences . . . . . . . . . 68

7 Canonical Correlation Analyses of Pretest
Death Orientation and Ootimal Functioning
Scores for Females and for Males . . . . 70

8 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High
Versus Low FIC and Chi-square Scores on
Death Orientation Scores . . . . . . 72

9 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High
Versus Low FTC and Ordination Scores on
Death Orientation Scores . . . . . . 73

10 Multiple Regressions of Death Threat Scores
on Selected Opt-im~al Functioning Variables. ..74

11 Anovas for Treatment Differences in Pretest
Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning
Scores . . . . . . . . . . 77







Table Page

12 Mean Scores for Death Threat, Ordination,
and Chi-square by Treatment Conditions
for Pretest and Posttest . . . . . .. .78

13 Manova Summary Table for Posttest Death
Orientation Scores . . . . . . ... 79

14 Anovas for Sex Differences in Posttest
Death Orientation Scores . .... . .. .81

15 Anovas for Treatment Differences in
Posttest Death Orientation Scores. . . .. .82

16 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of
Posttest Death Orientation Scores with Pre-
test Death Threat Scores as Covariate. . . 83

17 Nanova Summary Table for Posttest Optimal
Functioning Scores . . . . . . ... 85

18 Anovas for Treatment Effects on Posttest
Optimal Functioning Scores . . . . . 86

19 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of
Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores with
Pretest Ordination and Chi-square Scores
as Covariates. . . . . . . . .. .88

20 Canonical Correlation Analysis between
Pretest Death Orientation Scores and
Religious Beliefs/Practices. . . . . .90

21 Multiple Regression of Pretest Death Threat
Scores on Religious Beliefs/Practices
Variables . . . . . . . . . 92

22 Canonical Correlation Analyses for Pretest
Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning
Scores with WTI Scores . . . . . .. 95













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


REDUCTION IN DEATH THREAT
AS A BASIS FOR OPTIMAL FUNCTIONING:
THE TEST OF A CENTRAL EXISTENTIAL HYPOTHESIS

By

Michael A. Rigdon

August 1982

Chairman: Franz R. Epting
Major Department: Psychology

Based on a review of previous research, a significant

relationship was predicted between death orientation and opti-

mal functioning, both conceptualized in multidimensional terms.

Hypotheses are drawn from existential philosophy and from per-

sonal construct psychology to suggest that resolving the issue

of personal mortality enables a person to live a more intense,

meaningful life. In operational terms, optimal functioning

depends on one's positive orientation toward death. Selected

components of death education courses, therefore, were predicted

to result in more positive death orientation and more optimal

functioning.

Participants in the study were 96 undergraduate psychology

students. In the first experimental session, they completed

four questionnaires and participated in the experimental con-

dition to which each group was randomly assigned: completing


vii







an obituary/biography, writing a farewell letter, or, for the

control group, participating in a stress management experience,

The questionnaires included a personal data questionnaire, a

slightly modified form of the Threat Index (TI), the Purpose ii

Life Test (PIL), and the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FI

The TI was modified for scoring two differentiation and two

integration indices. Using 13-point scales, participants rate

self, my own death, and 10 death-related elements on 30 dimen-

sions related to death. For the second session, 95 participan'

returned to complete again the final three questionnaires list<

above.

The results indicated a significant relationship between

positive death orientation and the optimal functioning variable

with some differences in the pattern of this relationship for

males and for females. Multivariate analyses of variance fail

to support the impact of the death-related experiences on deat:

orientation or optimal functioning, perhaps because the select,

experiences were not strong enough to affect either complex,

stable attitudes toward death or a person's overall optimal

functioning level.

Results of post hoc analyses revealed significantly more

negati'/e death orientation for females, as well as the signifi

cant association of strong religious beliefs and practices wit

positive death orientation. Discussion focused on strengths

and limitations of the investigation and presented implications

for psychotherapy and for research in the areas of death orien

station and optimal functioning.


viii












CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION



We Americans are an optimistic sort. We have long

believed that any problem can be solved with a lot of hard

work, the right technology, and a bit of luck. Our technology

seems helpless in the face of death, however, which may be

one reason our society has tended to deny the reality of

death (Weisman, 1972). American psychologists similarly

have focused primarily on positive experiences in their in-

vestigations of optimal functioning--the behavior and exper-

ience of those who are prime examples of the actualization

of human potential. Maslow (1968), for instance, acknowl-

edged that he "made no effort to explore . what may be

called the 'nadir experience,' e.g., the (to some) painful

and crushing insights into the inevitability of aging and

death ." (p. 84).

Lester (1971a), on the other hand, presented evidence

that suggested the death denial of earlier times has given

way to more frequent thoughts of death. In 1970, students

completed the identical death attitude questionnaire com-

pleted by students at the same college in 1935. Compared

to the 1935 students, contemporary students reported being

more preoccupied with and concerned about death. This wide-

spread concern about the imminence of death may be responsible








for the movement presently spreading in Europe and the United

States to freeze the number of nuclear weapons. Scholars

also began to explore psychological and sociological aspects

of the phenomena of death and dying, as is evident from

Pearson's (1969) 100-page annotated bibliography, Santora's

(1980, 1981) 17-page bibliography of dissertations centered

on death and dying topics in the 1970's, and two volumes of

annotated death education references by Wass and her colleague

(Wass, Corr, Pacholski, & Sanders, 1980; Wass, Corr, & Pachol:

with Forfar, in press). Although the issue of the relations

between death attitudes and optimal functioning has been in-

vestigated occasionally, the study presented here was design

to build a comprehensive framework for understanding death

attitudes, optimal functioning, and their interrelationship

in order to provide some answer to Murphy's (1959) questions

"Under what conditions can the facing of death be constructed

in mental health terms?" (p. 319).

The aim of this introduction is first to elaborate the

conceptualization and operationalization of death orientation

second to review five models of optimal functioning, third to

review the currently available data regarding the relationship

between death attitudes and aspects of healthy functioning,

fourth to present an existential approach to the relationship

between healthy functioning and one's attitude about death,

fifth to present a personal construct view of the same issue,

and finally to state the rationale for the present study and

the hypotheses to be investigated.















orientation, so much so that two successful journals are now

in existence: Death Education and Omega. In studies reported

in these journals, death orientation has been conceptualized

in a variety of ways and assessed by means of a variety of

instruments. This section will describe these conceptualiza-

tions and instruments used in research on death orientation.

Research on death orientation is concerned generally with

a person's beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors regard-

ing the concept of personal death or the death of others.

Investigators initially focused on several negative aspects

of death orientation which were loosely termed death anxiety,

fear of death, or concern about death. With the exception

of an occasional use of physiological measures, such as

galvanic skin response and projective instruments such as

the Thematic Apperception Test to assess the level of death

anxiety or fear (Kurlychek, 1978a), research in this area

involved the development of self-report measures, such as

Templer's (1970) Death Anxiety Scale (DAS), Boyar's (1964)

Fear of DeatLh Scale, Lester's (1967a) Fear of Death Scale

(FDS), and Dickstein's (1972) Death Concern Scale (DCS).

More recently, Ray and Najman (1974) developed a self-report

measure designated to assess death acceptance, conceptualiz-

ing death orientation in positive rather than negative terms.







The five self-report measures just described represent

attempts to operationalize death orientation in unidimensiona

terms. For some time, however, thanatologists have recognize

that death orientation is a complex phenomenon, requiring

measures able to tap several aspects of a person's approach

to death. The complexity and multidimensionality of death

orientation have been explored in terms of one's orientation

toward death at several levels of awareness and in terms of

one's orientation toward several aspects of death itself.

Let us examine these two ways of viewing the multidimension-

ality of death orientation.

Feifel and his colleagues (Feifel & Branscomb, 1973;

Feifel,Freilich, & Hermann, 1973; Feifel & Hermann, 1973;

Feifel & Jones, 1968) were the first to focus attention on

the levels of awareness in relation to death orientation.

They developed a set of measures designed to assess fear of

death not only at the conscious level of awareness, but also

at a level below awareness (unconscious level) and at a mid-

level of awareness (fantasy level). Analysis of the results

of this set of measures with a variety of populations has

convinced Feifel of a consistent pattern of conscious denial

of death fear and high fear of death at the below-awareness

level, with frequently ambiguous responses at the fantasy

level. This pattern would seem to support Feifel's insistence

on assessing death fear at several levels. A person might

deny any awareness of being afraid of death, but a compara-

tively high level of unconscious death fear might be essentic








to an accurate assessment of the same person's death orien-

tation. Furthermore, the death orientation of two individ-

uals may be deceptively similar if one simply examines their

relatively high unconscious fear of death. Their death

orientation may differ in complex ways, however, if one of

the two individuals is consciously aware of high death fear

and is, perhaps, in the process of coming to terms with this

fear, while the second individual denies any awareness of

death fear as a problematic issue in life. The ability of

Feifel's set of measures accurately to assess conscious,

mid-level, and unconscious fear of death would open up such

questions for systematic study. The little evidence avail-

able to date suggests that Feifel's measures do not, in

fact, assess three levels of death fear. A factor analysis

(Rigdon, in press) of the scores of 60 high school and

college students on Feifel's measures indicated that the

conscious and fantasy measures tap what might be called

most accurately "conscious fear of death," while scores on

the other five measures split into two or three factors.

These five measures do not seem to tap a unitary unconscious

fear of death. And, until research indicates the correlates

of the various factors, it is unclear precisely what aspects

of death orientation are being assessed by these seemingly

heterogeneous measures. Feifel was a pioneer in devising

a method for assessing the multidimensional meaning of

death, but his work has not yet resulted in a satisfactory

set of death orientation measures.







Cardner Murphy (1959) suggested an alternative line of

assessing the complexity of death orientation in relation to

a variety of aspects of death. He noted that a person could

develop attitudes toward at least seven aspects of death.

Death could be feared not only as the natural end and as the

loss of consciousness and mastery, but also because of the

associated fears of loneliness, of personal failure, and of

what might happen to one's dependents. Vernon (1970) and

Kastenbaum and Aisenberg (1972) similarly emphasized the

importance of examining one's response to a variety of fea-

tures of death. In addition to fear associated with aspects

of the death and dying of others, they explored the basic

fear of personal death as extinction, as the end of personal

experience, and as separation from loved ones, as well as

the fear of pain and indignity during the process of dying,

and the fear of the possible consequences of death such as

personal punishment and what might happen to the people and

projects one is responsible for.

Researchers have used three approaches to tackle the

issue of the multidimensionality of death orientation. The

first approach to be examined is the determination of rele-

vant aspects of death by experts during the process of test

construction. At least two attempts have been made to

develop measures that include subscales for more than one

aspect of the concept and experience of death. Collett and

Lescer (1969) developed a reliable Fear of Death Scale (FDS)

with four subscales to assess fear of one's own death or




7


dying and fear of the death or dying of others. Hooper and

Spilka (1970) constructed nine 20-item scales for assessing

the seven aspects of death fear indicated by Murphy, as well

as the positive attitudes of death as an afterlife of reward

and death as an expression of courage. The researchers who

developed these more complex measures of death orientation

agreed with Murphy, Vernon, and Kastenbaum and Aisenberg that

one simple score could not estimate adequately a person's

beliefs, feelings, and behaviors with respect to such a

complex event as death.

Rather than developing a questionnaire to assess prede-

termined aspects of death orientation, several investigators

used a factor analytic approach to determine empirically what

aspects of death orientation emerge from a set of self-report

items. This represents a second approach to the multidimen-

sionality of death orientation. A factor analysis of

Dickstein's DCS (Klug & Boss, 1976), for instance, revealed

not the expected single death concern factor, but two factors

for the conscious contemplation of death and the negative

evaluation of death. Using factor analysis, Nelson and Nelson

(1975) developed scales they identified as death fear, death

avoidance, death denial, and reluctance to interact with the

dying. Victor (1981) constructed a questionnaire with factors

for existential death concern and helplessness of dying concern.

Durlak and Kass (1981) used principal components analysis to

determine what aspects of death orientation actually are







frequently used in death orientation research. Their analy-

sis determined the overlap between eight existing scales.

Four of the instruments had single scores: the Threat Index

(Rigdon, Epting, i.eimeyer, & Krieger, 1979), Templer's DAS,

Ray and Najman's Death Acceptance Scale, and Lester's FDS.

Three of the instruments had multiple scores, as previously

described: the Collett-Lester FDS, Nelson and Nelson's death

anxiety measure, and Dickstein's DCS. The final scales in-

volved the rating of the concepts of death and being in pain

on semantic differential dimensions.

Two of the five factors in Durlak and Kass' analysis

could be described as a general negative response to personal

death and preoccupation with thoughts about death. A re-

analysis of Durlak and Kass' data (Rigdon & Epting, 1981)

indicated that two of the other factors identified as reluc-

tance to interact with the dying and reaction to the reminder

of death may be summarized better as a third factor of avoid-

ance of the dying and of death reminders, while Durlak and

Kass' fifth factor, negative reaction to pain, should be

ignored as trivial. Although the analysis by Durlak and

Kass and that by Rigdon and Epting produced results that

differed in some important respects, both analyses indicated

the importance of selecting more than one measure to assess

various aspects of a person's attitudes and concepts about

death.

The Threat Index (TI) (Krieger, Epting, & Leitner, 1974)

is an instrument that represents a third way of assessing







death orientation with respect to several aspects of death.

Unlike the Collett-Lester FDS, however, the relevant aspects

of death are not predetermined when the test is constructed.

Unlike Durlak and Kass' approach to the multidimensionality

of death orientation, the relevant components of death atti-

tudes are not determined by a process of comparing responses

in a large sample of people. The TI, derived from personal

construct theory (Kelly, 1955), begins with a person gener-

ating a set of dichotomous meaning dimensions (personal

constructs) that are important to the person's view of death

(e.g., violent-peaceful or meaningful-useless). The person

next places the elements of self and my own death on each

construct. The more dimensions on which the self and death

are "split" (i.e., placed on opposite poles), the more the

person is taken to be threatened by death, in that more

change would be necessary for self and death to be compatible.

Thus, the TI assesses death orientation with respect to those

features of death that are most salient for each person.

Yet the TI provides in the number of splits a single score

which may be taken as a measure of one's level of threat or,

judging by the TI's high loading on Durlak and Kass' first

component, one's overall negative response to death.

The versatility of the TI is apparent in that one can

use the number of splits as a simple index of threat and, at

the same time, capitalize on the idiosyncratic multidimension-

ality of the TI by analyzing into principal components a

person's ratings of self, death, and other death-related







events on the death-related personal constructs. Warren

(1982) has indicated the usefulness of the principal com-

ponents analysis in conjunction with the TI. The split

score can provide an estimate of the individual's level of

threat, while the principal components analysis can provide

an indication of the possible directions in which the person

might move in an attempt to reduce the threat of death and

make self and death more compatible.

In conclusion, the three approaches to the multidimen-

sional conceptualization and assessment of death orientation

indicate the usefulness of assessing predetermined aspects

of death attitudes (e.g., fear of one's own death and fear

of the death of others) and the usefulness of having several

measures to tap the relatively independent components of

death as determined by Durlak and Kass' analysis. The flex-

ibility of the TI suggests that one might, at the same time,

examine the idiosyncratic multidimensionality of an individ-

ual's stance with respect to death. A combination of the

three approaches to multidimensionality would seem to be

most advantageous for capturing death orientation with

some accuracy.



Optimal Functioning



Upon meeting a psychologist, people often remark, "I

had better be careful what I say." As if the psychologist

would catch them in a "Freudian slip" or some indication of













theoretical understanding of mental illness. Within'this

framework, mental health would be simply the opposite of

mental illness and would he thought of as the absence of any

noticeable indications of psychological disorders. Jahoda

(1958) extended the concept of mental health to include var-

ious positive features of behavior and experience, such as

self-expressiveness, open-mindedness, the ability to deal

effectively with daily stress, realistic self-awareness

about one's strengths and weaknesses, and genuine concern

for others and the ability to establish meaningful relation-

ships.

Other investigators developed alternative models to

circumvent the illness-health dichotomy and to present healthy

functioning in a positive framework on its own terms. Just

as there would seem to be important physiological differences

between a normally healthy (i.e., "unsick") person and a

champion athlete, so there may be important differences be-

twenen a mentally healthy person who has escaped serious psycho-

logical disorders and a person who is an exceptional exa-mple

of the possibilities of human growth and development. Jung

(19163) focused an a life-long process he termed individuation.

Allpcrt (1961) develoIped the concepts of prjopriate functioning

and mature personality. Jourard (1968) emphasized self-

dis-closure. Rogers (1961) developed his notion of the fully







functioning person. These approaches share a focus on opti-

mal functioning, a term which can be used to describe the

level of growth attained by exceptional people or the exper-

ience and performance level of most people at those excep-

tional moments when we are "at our best." Investigators in

this area of psychology are interested in what a person can

become when human potentials are realized. The remainder

of this section will examine briefly five models of optimal

functioning and several methods for assessing this phenomenon


Maslow's Model of the Self-Actualizing Person


Maslow (1968), in his study of exemplars of what he

termed full humanness, noticed that, in the process of growth

certain basic needs were fulfilled first to maintain minimal

functioning. These are physiological needs, as well as

security needs and a person's need to be loved and respected.

Maslow called these deficiency needs because a person pursues

objectives that will fill the void which comprises each need.

A second set of needs relates to a person's full development.

These are aesthetic needs and the need to self-actualize--to

realize one's potential more completely. Unlike the deficien

needs, a person engages in the self-expressiveness of self-

actualization or in the pursuit of truth and beauty for the

sheer joy of the pursuit. The experience itself is the rewar

not the reduction of some deficit. Maslow referred to this a

meta-motivation, and he used the term peak experiences for

those joyful moments in which one surpasses deficit motivation








to actualize self or to attain truth and beauty. Among other

characteristics, Maslow described the exceptional people he

studied as having 1. clear, efficient perceptions of re-

ality, 2. openness to experience, 3. spontaneity and self-

expressiveness, 4. creativity, 5. self-acceptance, and 6. a

sense of autonomy and independence.

In order to assess the level to which people have de-

veloped the characteristics presented by Hlaslow and other

investigators of optimal functioning, Shostrom (1962) de-

veloped the Personality Orientation Inventory (POI). This

150-item self-report questionnaire has two major scales for

time competence and inner support, as well as 10 overlapping

minor scales for characteristics such as spontaneity, self-

acceptance, and capacity for intimacy. Some of the hundreds

of POI studies have provided moderate validity support in

its ability to discriminate clinical populations from more

normal, mentally healthy groups and in the predicted corre-

lations of some POI subscales with other characteristics

related to self-actualization. On the other hand, the POI

has been criticized on several grounds (Amerikaner, 1978;

Oakland, Freed, Lovekin, Davis, & Camilleri, 1978). First

of all, the test construction has been questioned because

some items are not clearly based on Maslow's theory or any

other. Other items are vaguely worded. Many items are

scored on one of the major scales and two of the minor scales.

Secondly, test-retest reliability coefficients for the sub-

scales are lower than one might wish, with a median of .59







in one study (Ilardi & May, 1968). Third, the POI profiles

of a large number of people fall within the self-actualized

range, although Maslow believed less than 1 percent of the

population could be called self-actualized. Finally, there

is evidence (Braun & LaFaro, 1969) that students can arti-

ficially raise their POI scores if they are taught self-

actualization concepts and terminology. Their ability to

give the impression of being self-actualized raises the

question of whether psychotherapy may sometimes result in

higher POI scores simply by giving clients information about

self-actualization rather than by producing it. The POI is

an interesting first attempt to operationalize the complex

notion of self-actualization, but some basic re-construction

needs to correct the problems just outlined to produce a

psychometrically adequate instrument.


Landsman's Beautiful and Noble Person


Rather than studying exceptional individuals, Landsman

(1974; Jourard & Landsnan, 1980) studied exceptional experi-

ences to develop his model of optimal functioning. His in-

vestigation of positive personal and interpersonal experience

remembered by a variety of people and of tragic experiences

which were later viewed as positive led him to propose three

general stages in the development of the basically normal

person into a beautiful and noble person. These stages are

1. the self-loving, self-expressive passionate self, 2. the

environment-loving self who appreciates the beauty of the
















psionate behavior develops, especially in children.


Fakl's Model of a Meaningful Life


Following his concentration camp experiences during

Wrd War II, Frankl (1963) presented a model of optimal

fntioning which emphasized a person's ability to create a

maingful, purposeful life. Experiences such as the success-

flachievement of a goal, the sense of being one with nature

some other valued object, and interpersonal intimacy pro-

moethe discovery of meaning and purpose. But Frankl focused

osuffering as a special opportunity for the person to create

maing. Even under extremely desperate circumstances, each

pron remains free to determine the attitude with which to

apoach the situation. According to Frankl, the discovery

this freedom forms the basis of a meaningful life.

Crumbaugh and Maholick (19G9) designed a 20-item, Purpose

in ife Test (PIL) to assess the extent to which a person has

effctively created a meaningful, purposeful life. In-itial

reut:; supported the reliability of the PIL and indicated,

example, that it does distinguish between depressed indi-

v tdals and those who report a sense of well-being. High PIL

soes are also associated with positive self-concept and

sefesteem (Rekler, 1977). Several studies have investigated








the relaLionship between the PIL and variables with which

one could predict an association in light of Frankl's theory.

Sharpe and Viney (1973) analyzed college students' written

descriptions of their world view, finding that the world

views of the students with low PIL scores were judged nega-

tive, lacking in purpose, and lacking in transcendent goals.

Students with positive, purposeful world views and transcen-

ent goals had high PIL scores. Similarly, persons with high

Purpose in Life scores endorsed values such as responsibility

and salvation, but de-valued pleasure (Crandall & Rasmussen,

1975; Simmons, 1980). They seemed to have learned that, as

Frankly maintained, happiness or pleasure are achieved in-

directly by striving for personal values which directly make

life meaningful. The results of these studies support the

contention that the PIL is a good measure of meaning and

purpose in life, as conceptualized by Franki, although a

significant relationship with social desirability (r = .59)

indicates that PIL scores may be influenced by the desire to

give a good impression. A group of subjects did not, however,

raise their PIL scores after being told their first scores

were unacceptably low (Snavely, cited in Crumbaugh & Maholick,

1969). Furthermore, Durlak (1972, 1978) has failed to find

a significant correlation between PIL scores and social de-

sirability in three samples (r = .00, .01, -.10, respectively).















college students' responses to a variety of questionnaires

designed to assess characteristics of the optimal personality.

Rather than indicating one general trait of optimal function-

ing, Coan's analysis resulted in 19 factors, which he encap-

sulated in five basic features of efficiency, creativity

and openness to new experiences, harmony with self, the

ability to relate to others, and the ability to transcend

self in unity with a larger whole. Amerikaner (1978) criti-

cized the lack of validity support for Coan's questionnaires.

He also observed that a general optimal functioning factor

might be found in a sample of optimally functioning individ-

uals. Coan's failure to find a general trait may reflect on

the college sample rather than on the nature of optimal func-

tioning. On the other hand, his approach could represent

eventually the most comprehensive, empirical model for the

investigation and understanding of optimal functioning.


Kelly's Model of Optimal Functioning


Like the other investigators briefly reviewed, Kelly

(1955, 1980) developed his own unique approach to optimal

functioning, an approach elaborated by Epting and Amerikaner

(1980; see also Epting & Suchman, in press). Kelly was con-

cerned with the process according to which people change

their personally constructed meaning units (personal construts







a;dic Lhus their overall construct system in order more effec-

tively to interpret a complex, ever-changing world. Accord-

ing to Kelly, growthful change occurs through the five-stage

experience cycle. Most of us, unfortunately, tend to get

stuck at one stage or another, or we try to skip one of them.

Optimal functioning is characteristic of people who generally

complete the experience cycle. And most of us function opti-

mally at those exceptional moments when our experience cycle

is complete. The first step is active anticipation. When

an acquaintance asks to borrow your car, do you anticipate

that she is trustworthy and dependable or not? The second

stage is involvement: If you expect your acquaintance is

dependable, what are the implications of this expectation?

Will she also drive carefully? Will she clean the car before

she returns it? How important is it that you view her as

dependable? In the next step, encounter, you act as if your

acquaintance is dependable: You loan her your car and are

vulnerable and open to the results. The results of the

encounter will either confirm and validate your anticipation

or not (step 4). The invalidation of having your car returned

with a large dent in the left fender would require some activ-

it' at stage 5, constructive revision, where you might re-

construe your acquaintance as being accident-prone or a

problem drinker. Anticipation is essential to this entire

process, but growth cannot occur without taking some action

in terms of what one anticipates.













respectively. The creativity cycle refers to the process by

which a person alternately loosens and tightens the boundaries

of constructs in order to invent new construct dimensions to

interpret events. The activity cycle (or C-P-C cycle) is

similar to the experience cycle, but reflects the special

experience of making decisions. A full activity cycle has

three stages: 1. a circumspect consideration of a variety

of constructs which might describe the issues in this situa-

tion, 2. a preemptive selection of a single issue as most

salient and crucial (e.g., exercise is good for my health;

sitting to watch another football game is not), and 3. the

choice of one of the alternatives to carry into action. No

method has been developed, unfortunately, to assess directly

and quantitatively the extent to which the three cycles just

described are fully and efficiently operating in a person's

life.

An alter-native approach to optimal. functioning within

the personal construct framework relates to the extent to

which the person is engaged in the process of developing a

more complex construct system for effectively anticipating

life events- Follow~ing Werner's (1957) orthogenetic prin-

ciple of cognitive development, personal construct theorists

(Adams-Webber, 1979; Crockett, 1965; Crum, 1978) have viewed

the development of complexity as a two-fold process of







differentiation and hierarchical integration. Differentiation

is the process of creating new construct dimensions with

which to interpret one's experience. This implies the pro-

gressive elaboration of construct subsystems with which to

make sense of a variety of events. Interpersonal experience,

career events, and the realm of death might each have an asso-

ciated construct subsystem. Integration, on the other hand,

refers to the process of drawing out the implications between

constructs so that the various constructs and subsystems fit

together in a unified framework.

There is a relationship between the two-fold process of

complexity and the creativity and activity cycles described

above. The level of differentiation would be an index of

the efficiency of the creativity cycle for generating con-

structs in response to new experiences, while the level of

integration would indirectly indicate the efficiency with

which a person could sort through a variety of constructs to

preemptively select one that best represents the issue on

which to make a choice for action. This preemptive selection

would be more efficient in an integrated network with its

clear lines of implication.

Fransella and Bannister (1977) and Adams-Webber (1979)

described aid evaluated about 20 indices to use reptest ratings

of elements in terms of a set of personal constructs for as-

sessing complexity or one of its aspects. The results provide

some support for differentiation and integration indices.

Smith and Leach (1972), for instance, found a relationship





21


between scores on their hierarchical organization measure

and abstractness as assessed by Harvey's (1966) This I Be-

lieve Test, designed to assess cognitive development from

a child's focus on the concrete to the mature adult's ability

to deal with the world in a more abstract way. More inte-

grated subjects were also higher in abstractness. Using

Adams-Webber's (1969) differentiation index, Olson and

Partington (1977) found that highly differentiated subjects,

as a result of having a variety of their own personal per-

spectives, were more able to take the perspective of others

when re-telling a story from the viewpoint of different char-

acters. Relative to optimal functioning, Thomas and Seeman

(1-971) reported that individuals identified by other group

members as matching Jahoda's (1958) characteristics of mental

health were more differentiated in their interpersonal con-

structs, in that they generated a greater number of constructs

to describe people. Wexler (1974) used the POI to identify

optimally functioning members in a group, whose descriptions

of emotional experience were judged more differentiated and

integrated than the descriptions of less optimally function-

ing group members. Besides providing some support for the

validity of the differentiation and integration indices, the

research to date also supports the optimal functioning of

more differentiated and integrated subjects.

Landfield (1971) and his colleagues (Landfield & Barr,

1975; Leitner, Lan~dfield, & Barr, 1976; Landfield & Schimittdiel,







differentiation, and two to operationalize integration. The

differentiation index is called FIC, for Functionally Inde-

pendent Constructions (the name is a definition of differen-

tiation), and represents the degree to which the person

applies constructs in a similar way to the elements. If

everyone who is friendly is also warm, the two constructs

are functionally equivalent. If there is little overlap, so

that knowing a woman is friendly does not help the person

decide whether or not she is also emotionally stable, for

instance, then the two constructs are functionally independent.

A person who uses constructs in a nonoverlapping, independent

manner is considered more differentiated than a person with

more overlapping constructions.

Landfield operationalized integration in two ways. Both

ordination and the chi-square statistic measure the extent to

which a person uses the same rating point to describe various

people on a construct dimension or, on the other hand, spreads

the descriptions across all the points on the scale. The

rationale for these two indices is that the process of mak-

ing fine discrimination along a construct dimension would

seem to require the use of superordinate constructs. A per-

son with a poorly integrated interpersonal system, for example,

might. tend to view Barb, Bill, and Wayne as equally friendly,

whereas a more integrated person might view Barb as friendlier

than Bill because she is also affectionate, but less friendly

than Wayne, who is not only affectionate, but also trustworthy.

The fine discrimination along the friendly-unfriendly dimension








are made possible because of the implications of the super-

ordinate constructs affectionate-not affectionate and

trustworthy-untrustworthy.

Crum (1978) demonstrated the usefulness of conceptual-

izing complexity in terms of the two processes of differen-

tiation and integration, especially as operationalized by

FJC and ordination. Although ordination was the best pre-

dictor of performance in his study, FIC scores clarified

the relationship between ordination and such variables as

intuitive reasoning and performance on an embedded figures

task. Wilkins (1978) found that subjects who were high in

both FIC and ordination were less likely than other subjects

to change their first impression about a person after being

presented conflicting information. As predicted, these sub-

jects were better able to see at the same time more than one

aspect of other people. Using his FIC, ordination, and chi-

square indices, Landfield (1979; Landfield & Schmittdiel,

1981) found that highly integrated group members (according

to their ordination and chi-square scores) could more easily

predict the way that other group members use their constructs.

Not only are they able to understand others, but others in

the group are also able to understand those who are more

integrated. The group had a hard time predicting the more

differentiated members, especially if they were also low in

integration. Highly differentiated, poorly integrated people

are confusing to others and hard to understand, and they do not

understand others very effectively.







While these results support the validity of FIC, ordina-

tion, and chi-square as indices of differentiation and inte-

gration, Amerikaner's (1979) investigation failed to find a

relationship between either differentiation (assessed by FIC)

or integration (assessed by ordination) and optimal function-

ing. Although optimally functioning persons have been more

differentiated and integrated in several studies described

earlier, this association has not resulted from research

using FIC and ordination. Amerikaner indicated that his

failure to find support for this relationship may be due

either to his determination of the differentiation and inte-

gration scores from provided constructs rather than the more

usual elicited constructs or to the lack of truly extreme

groups.

Maslow, Landsman, Frankl, Coan, and Kelly developed

models of optimal functioning that differ in many ways in

the conceptualization and assessment of this phenomenon.

Amerikaner (197S) suggested a comparison of optimal function-

ing models in terms of three aspects: process, structure,

and content. Let us explore how these three aspects can

help summarize models of optimal functioning, particularly

the five approaches described here.

The process aspects relate to how the person changes and

progresses toward the goal of optimal functioning. Optimal

functioning theories generally focus attention on this aspect.

Jung, for example, described the life-long process by which

the person becomes more individuated, and Rogers emphasized













Self-actualization is an end-state toward which we progress

without ever fully attaining it. Frankl's approach points

to the key process of creating personal meaning. The per-

sonal construct model describes the process by which a person

completes the cycles of experience, creativity, and activity.

The complementary processes of differentiation and integra-

tion are also important for the development of a richly

varied personality which operates as a unified whole.

The structural aspects of the optimally functioning per-

son refer less to the person's flexibility and more to the

arrangement of the personality components in a hierarchical

order, with some more important than others. M1,aslow, for

example, spoke of a need hierarchy, -with the basic deficiency

needs eventually subordinated to the meta-needs of self-

actualization and aesthetic experience. Vine compassionate-

self in Landsman's model is the highest stage in the hier-

archy of becoming the beautiful and noble person. Yelly

frequently referred to a person's core constructs--those

uuon hihone estdblishos an-d maintains self-identity.

Integration refers to the extent to which the implicat-ions

of these superordinate core constructs for the more incidental

subordinate constructs have been elaborated- The connections

between the core and incidental constructs ensure the system's

smooth, coordinated operation.







In Kelly's model, the constructs could be called the

content--the components which comprise the person's system.

The content aspect is important in several optimal function-

ing models. Maslow, Coan, and Landsman, for instance, in-

vestigated traits they considered constitutive of the opti-

mal functioning person. The POI was designed to measure such

optimal functioning qualities. And the PIL, designed to tap

into the person's process of creating a meaningful life,

directly measures the content of a person's beliefs about

the relative meaningfulness of a number of aspects of life.

A comprehensive approach to optimal functioning might profit-

ably attempt assessment in all three aspects of process,

structure, and content.



Empirical Studies on the Correlation of
Death Attitudes and Psychological Health



Proceeding from a variety of theoretical perspectives,

a considerable number of researchers have searched for a re-

lationship between attitudes toward death and a variety of

personality characteristics. Reasoning that a healthy

approach to life goes hand-in-hand with a positive, accept-

ing orientation toward death, these researchers have attempted

to associate positive death orientation (low death anxiety or

fear, for instance) with a positive life orientation or, at

least, with the absence of negative life orientation. After

reviewing the evidence regarding death orientation and both







specific and general indicators of healthy functioning, this

section will conclude with an examination of the data regard-

ing the association between death orientation and aspects

of inadequate, maladaptive behavior.

First of all, the expectation generally has been that

those who accept death will also be living a more meaningful

life, with higher self-esteem and a greater sense of compe-

tence than those who are anxious, fearful, or threatened by

death. Individuals who have a positive death orientation

have been predicted also to be lower in certain indicators

of inadequate functioning, such as general anxiety and scores

on MMPI scales, while those with a negative death orientation

were expected to be functioning less adequately, i.e., to

be more anxious and to score higher on the .MMPI scales.

Contrary to this general line of thought, Diggory (1966)

and his colleague (Diggory & Rothman, 1961) developed a ration-

ale for a rival hypothesis. They reasoned that people who

value and esteem themselves will have "more to lose" at death

and, therefore, be more fearful of death than people with low

self-esteem. Accordingly, Diggory predicted that persons who

pride themselves on their accomplishments and view life as

a time for achieving goals will have a special difficulty

facing death, which represents, after all, the end of goal-

directed behavior and which "will permanently frustrate us

by removing the possibility of any purposive activity" (p.

415). In support of their hypothesis, Diggory and Rothman

presented the results of a survey indicating that people








generally rank "the end of the opportunity to achieve goals"

high on their list of why death is a frightening event. This

result, while interesting, does not bear directly on their

hypothesis. Three studies that have more directly tested

Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis produced surprising results.

Nogas, Schweitzer, and Grumet (1974) failed to find a posi-

tive correlation between need for achievement and death

anxiety scores in their sample of 80 female college students

(r = -.13, p > .05). Their evidence did not support Diggory

and Rothman's hypothesis. Secondly, Alcorn (1977) found a

significant negative association between DAS scores and self-

esteem. People who value self are not more anxious about

death because of what they have to lose. The evidence indi-

cates that they have a more relaxed, accepting attitude than

those who have a less adequate level of self-esteem. Alcorn's

test of Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis resulted in support

for the competing notion of the positive relationship between

healthy life and death orientations. A third study (Aronow,

Rauchway, Peller, & DeVito, 1980) similarly reported signif-

icant negative correlations between death anxiety and sense

of '.'ell-being (-.28) and the similarity between self and

ideal-self ratings (-.19). Individuals who value self tend

to have lower death anxiety, contrary to Diggory and Rothman's

expectation.

Further research has produced rather consistent evidence

for the association between positive death orientation and

specific aspects of healthy functioning, such as meaning in













reported consistent evidence that individuals who are living

a meaningful, purposeful life as assessed by the Purpose of

Life Test (PIL) tend to be less afraid and less anxious about

death. It should be noted, however, that these correlations

might be inflated by the presence on the PIL of two items

that relate specifically to one's orientation toward death.

Furthermore, Duke (1978) was unable to find support for a

relationship between the PIL scores of dying patients in a

private, religious-affiliated hospital and the staff's rating

of patients' acceptance of death.

People who have a good sense of their own competence are

less fearful and anxious about death, whether sense of com-

petence is assessed by a structured interview (Farley, 1971)

or by several subscales of the California. Personality Inven-

tory (Nogas (-et al., 1974). In other words, people who feel

capable of coping with their own death also tend to feel

capable of coping with life. Moses (1973) likewise found a

significant relationship between high self-esteem and low

fear of death, using Boyar's (1964) Fear of Death Scale,

a result not replicated, however, by Casciani (1979), who

used several scales toassess death orientation. Le-stex and

Collett (1970) and Neimeyef aind Chapman (1980) both found

support- for a similar notion th-at individuals who are rather

satisfied with the progress of their life project (little







discrepancy between their views of self and ideal self) are

able to face death with a more accepting, less fearful orien-

tation than are those who are less satisfied with who they

are and see the need for many changes (large discrepancy

between their views of self and ideal self).

Several studies have examined the relationship between

death orientation and a general index of healthy functioning

--Shostrom's (1962) Personality Orientation Inventory (POI)

to assess self-actualization. On the one hand, Wesch (1971)

and Wexler (1978) reported that individuals with less death

fear, anxiety, and threat had significantly higher scores

on several of the POI subscales. In Pollak's (1979) sample

of graduate students, low DAS scores were associated with

high scores on the POI scale for time competence (r = -.25).

The correlations with the other major scale and the 10 minor

subscales, however, were not significant.

In summary, no evidence has supported Diggory and Roth-

man's hypothesis that individuals with high self-esteem and

high need for achievement have more to lose by death and will

be more apprehensive about death. The data indicate, instead,

a consistent, moderate association of positive death orienta-

tion with specific features of optimal functioning, such as

meaning in life, sense of competence, and high self-esteem.

And, although positive death orientation has been related to

one or another aspect of self-actualization as assessed by

the POI, the pattern of this relationship has not been con-

sistent. The overall evidence supports a moderate, positive







relationship between positive deat orientation and various

aspects of optimal functioning.

The relationship between deat orientation and the pres-

ence or absence of certain aspect of inadequate function-

ing, including neurotic tendencies an general anxiety, has

also been explored. Let us now reiw the evidence from

these investigations. Almost 50 yas ago, Schilder (1936)

interviewed 31 imprisoned murderer to determine their

attitudes about death. Psychopati and psychotic killers

reported high fear of death and procupation with thoughts

of death as punishment, whereas kilrs with no particular

psychopathic trends were less afri of death and viewed

death as remote. Lester (1967b) adPollak (1979) reviewed

more recent studies which attempted to extend Schilder's

finding to other indicators of inaeuate functioning,

Including neurotic tendencies and hih general anxiety.

The evidence from these studies wilbe presented next.


Tendencies toward Neurosis or Deprsion


Several early studies on the reationship between death

attitudes and unhealthy, inadequate functioning involved aged

participants. According to Rhuck and Dibner (1961), high

death concerns among the aged are rated to so-called neurotic

trends (high scores on the MYPI scls for hypochondriasis,

depression, and hysteria) and to ig scores on the Cornell

Medical Index- (CMI) of physical an psychiatric symptoms.







significant relationship of death anxiety to .IL'PI depression

scores (r = .28) and to the psychiatric section of the CMI

(r = .54). Jeffers, Nichols, and Eisdorfer (1961) found

that elderly people with higher death fear more frequently

reported feelings of depression and rejection. Maladjusted

elderly people, especially those who are depressed, generally

are more fearful and anxious regarding death.

In young adults, Templer (1970) found that death anxiety

is related to high MMPI depression scores and also to the

MIPI scales for schizophrenia and psychasthenia. Like the

elderly, college students who are more anxious and fearful

concerning death also have more neurotic tendencies, with

elevated scores on the neurosis scales of the Eysenck Per-

sonality Inventory (Templer, 1972) (r = .36) and of the

Maudsley Personality Inventory (Moses, 1973). Templer and

Ruff (1971) reported that mean scores on the Death Anxiety

Scale (DAS) are generally higher for adult psychiatric patients

than for normal adults. Feifel and Hermann (1973), on the

other hand, found similar patterns in the death attitudes of

neurotic and normal subjects.

A study by Lester and Schumacher (1969) failed to find

the predicted elevation in the level of death fear of schizo-

phrenic patients compared to nonschizophrenics, perhaps be-

cause the nonschizophrenic comparison group was comprised

of many depressed patients (Fast & Pawl, 1970). It would

have been surprising if these depressed control subjects had

reduced death fear scores in light of the previously cited

indications that depression is linked with high death fear.







To summarize, in most empirical investigations, negative

death attitudes such as high death fear or high death anxiety,

have been associated, both in the aged and in younger adults,

with negative indicators of physical and psychological health,

particularly with the presence of depressed feelings and

other neurotic behaviors.


General Anxiety and Other Indicators of Maladjustment


Research consistently indicates a positive association

between death anxiety (DAS scores) or death fear (scores on

the Collett-Lester FDS) and general anxiety, as measured by

a variety of standard scales (Dickstein, 1972; Farley, 1971;

Handal, 1969; Handal & Rychlak, 1971; Lucas, 1974; Nogas et

al., 1974; Templer, 1970, 1971, 1972). Researchers have also

expected a relationship between death fear/anxiety and several

other negative indicators of psychological health. The

Repression-Sensitization Scale, for instance, identifies the

extent to which a person is aware of and actively responds

to arousing stimuli. The sensitized individuals are thought

of as tending toward anxiety, and prove to have more negative

attitudes toward death, whether these attitudes are assessed

by the DAS (landal & Rychlak, 1971; Tolor & Reznikoff, 1967),

DCS (Dickstein, 1972), TI (Tobacyk & Eckstein, 1980), or a

combination of items from a number of instruments (Farley,

1971). When presented with death-related material to read,

however, sensitizers did not report more anxiety than repres-

sors (Paris & Goodstein, 1966).







Feldman and Hersen (1967) reported a significant rela-

tionship between conscious death fear and frequency of night-

mares, a result not replicated by Lester (1968). Lester

(1967a) did find that those individuals who had attempted

suicide in a sample of adolescents were less afraid of death

than their nonsuicidal counterparts, but found no relation-

ship in a normal, adult population between one's attitudes

regarding suicide and those regarding death (Lester, 1971b).

In summary, investigators have generally reported that

people with higher death fear or death anxiety score higher,

as well, on a variety of indices that may be thought of

broadly as indicators of maladjustment. Let us now turn to

several theories which try to account for the relationship

between positive death orientation and positive life orien-

tation.



An Existential Hypothesis



Personal death is an important topic in the writing of

the existentialists. And, although there is variation in the

amount of attention they give to death and in the precise

manner in which death fits into their overall scheme, there

is a fundamental similarity in the way in which they deal with

the issue (Carse, 1980; Nagley, 1978; Olson, 1971). As a

group, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Sartre focused

their energies on understanding and resolving the general

malaise they observed in modern societies. Science and





35


technology have contributed to a higher standard of living

in which basic needs are satisfied. Rather than producing

happiness, this situation has resulted in the continualcrv

ing for more that is characteristic of the materialistic

consumer-oriented Western countries. Underneath the smiln

surface, the existentialists perceived a yawning gulf o

emptiness and boredom. What went wrong? After examining

the existentialists' analysis of the root of this emptiness

we will explore their notion of the awareness of personal

death and how this awareness is supposed to result in a mr

intense, meaningful life.

The existentialist diagnosis is that people have los

track of their individuality and have been swallowed up i

the attitudes and behavior of the herd. This happens ina

variety of ways. For one thing, we easily fall into the

trap of focusing on what we do rather than trying to dis-

cover who we are. Our conversation frequently betrays the

importance we give to the roles we play- "I am a counselr

what do you do? I-hat is your major? What do you teach?

Are you married? What does your husband do?" Becaus o

the complexity of modern life, people have come tobeiv

that truly worth-vwhile goals are accom-,pli shed by team ly

with everybody working together and contributing tothwol

through their own small role. The problem- is, according

thLe existentialists, we cannot follow group guidelinewihu

losing the self-consciousness which makes us uniquelyhmn







course," I am basing my behavior on something other than my

own experience and my own intentionality. An alternative way

of losing ourselves is to develop the belief that "I will be

happy and alive as soon as. . No matter how we finish

that sentence, we betray an attitude of de-valuing our present

experience. There seems to be little reason, therefore, to

be intent on the present. And if we find a new "as soon as

tomorrow, intentionality and human self-consciousness

may never begin (Slote, 1978). Small wonder, thought the

existentialists, that people experience an emptiness. People

have lost their individuality and ceased to live in a specif-

ically human mode by fading into the crowd or in some other

way failing to be intent and self-aware in the present.

The cause of the emptiness perceived by the existential-

ists seems to run to the very core of what it means to be

human. What sort of solution can they offer? Each person,

they believed, can re-discover the important aspects of human

existence through an encounter with death, not death in gen-

eral, but personal death, "my death." This encounter is an

awareness of my essential, absolute limitation: my personal

mortality, an awareness with intellectual, emotional, and

behavioral implications (Choron, 1963). According to exis-

tentialist thinking, bringing my future death into the

present reveals the present for what it is: all that a

person has. A person could turn away from this awareness.

People do, after all, fade back into the crowd. They pre-

tend to be making a contribution to some significant cause,








or they continue to live "as soon as ."--any method to

avoid the awareness of who they really are. On the other

hand, a person who resolutely faces personal death learns

that, while the escape routes preclude anxiety, they also

preclude genuine human existence. For the person who accepts

personal death and its implications for living a truly human

existence, the present acquires an urgency and intensity be-

cause it is all the person has (Koestenbaum, 1971). The

individual who is aware of personal mortality will focus on

the most important and meaningful possibilities of the moment

and will be aware of personal freedom rather than being pres-

sured by the opinions or behaviors of the group.

To summarize, the existentialists believed that without

the awareness of personal death, life remains artificial. A

uniquely human mode of living is possible only for the indi-

vidual who learns to face the necessity of personal mortality.

Personal death, in a certain sense, does not threaten my

existence. Instead, it is one of the essential features of

my existence (Gray, 1967). An intense, free, vigorously

human life is characteristic of the person with this view

of personal death. To live life well, a person must face

death.



A Personal Construct View



Like other humanistic psychologists, Kelly focuses his

attention on the living, active person-in-process. At first







glance, a personal construct view of optimal functioning

seems to have less to do with death and more to do with com-

pleting the cycle of experience and with the process of de-

veloping a differentiated and integrated personal construct

system with which to approach life. Kelly (1965) did, it

is true, extend his theory to the phenomenon of suicidal

behavior, proposing the intriguing notion that suicide may

be thought of as a way of preventing further invalidation

and the total collapse of a person's system for interpreting

life. Rather than face a future of total chaos without a

system which can accurately anticipate the on-rushing events

of life (except the certainty of still further invalidation!),

the person may opt to preserve the remnants of his/her sys-

tem of meaning by suicide. Landfield (1976) and Lester

(1968, 1969, 1971b) pursued this hypothesis about suicidal

behavior with generally positive results. This application

of personal construct psychology speaks less to the meaning

of death, however, than to the lack of meaning in one's life.

Death as a possibility enters the picture only when life is

identified with chaos and a meaningful life seems impossible.

Three aspects of personal construct psychology reflect

more directly the relationship predicted by the existentialists

between a person's approach to death and optimal functioning.

First of all, Kelly frequently referred to death as an example

of an event which generally threatens the person. As Kelly

(1955) stated:










oThreatlikes the hawarenes tof theminent comlire-yt
heniveaot rsi changes in oneir core costructurssn.re

fcordn the theaty tohe significantigtieicanspectivechng

changeicalushane asubtatial persoh is for coexample.cph

Deangth iers wihhreathenining awa to motedulecVe describe
iasthreatening tour the because the y pumna erceive iton'
both asmp ike ito heappen oe a to thinn surielyn _onog
brings of bgouth drati change inteiifeontucs

Acordng tho Kelly thaed prcest ofvigifian person rslea ichmange

isilthwartwedndpersonratening conditones, which manino? Minht

superficialnchanger aslosrc the prorusforndoverntol mesapen the

hithraeningfeveto tieu wilhu eeec odlath tohend offcove ltheat

Comng thto terms with meaningis aortwaey, tomprtiule death'

theathnThe nature by psacholgicefndmnal meaning inprof cone'

lifeucompsatholeg with dath seodapiwilas onewa to enueanoging


Ona ta psothrhad must evfonerth personl resolver an icompa-


snout a peson, aftral coneblestrudcvalues fundlifenthal manino

his/heribe withoueth reeencea to dellyhs thenr discoe late


death? Theaatreo psychological meaning in perntson dalecticnl






in otheLr words, a person comes -to know a se-ries of events in

terms of the ways in which some events are si-milar to each

other and different from other events. To understand what







a person means by "playful," for example, we need to know

the opposite. One person may use the contrast "boring."

Playfulness means something quite different to another per-

son who thinks of people as "playful vs. hard-working." The

former person will relate to a playful person as a spontaneous,

joyful, exciting person; the latter might consider the playful

person to be lazy, childish, and irresponsible. The same is

true of a person's understanding of life. An exploration of

a person's understanding of death will provide information

essential to understanding what the person considers impor-

tant in life. Operating within a personal construct perspec-

tive, Rowe (1932) reported on her attempts to explore her

clients' "metaphor" about death in order to determine the

questions their life was meant to answer. Rowe believes that

one of the most significant questions a therapist can ask

clients is: "What comes after death?" Another is: "Do

you want to be buried or cremated?" Rowe's clinical evidence

supports her notion that clients who find an optimistic answer

to their questions about death will be able to live a fuller,

more meaningful life than are those clients who arrive at a

negative answer. Because of the dialectical nature of psycho-

logical meaning, a person cannot construe adequately the

meaning of life without construing the meaning of its

opposite--death.

A third aspect of Kelly's theory also suggests that a

positive death orientation will result in more optimal func-

tioning. According to Kelly, the resolution of a conflict







r-equres the development of more abstract, superordinate

constructs, resulting in a more integrated construct system,

which may be considered a feature of optimal functioning.

A person who views life and death as falling on opposite

poles of a variety of personal constructs (high death threat)

will avoid behaviors which would imply that death is a real

possibility, compatible with his/her definition of core

self. In the process of resolving the incompatibility be-

tween self-definition and death, the person will actively

engage in death-related behaviors, which will require and

support the development of a more structured, integrated

construct system through the creation of superordinate,

linkageconstructs. In several ways, therefore, construct

theory supports the notion that coming to terms with death

by reducing death threat is a basis for optimal functioning.



Rationale and Hypotheses



Previous research has indicated a moderate relationship

between positive orientation toward death and aspects of

optimal functioning. People with less anxiety or fear

about personal death tend to have higher scores on measures

that tap self-esteem, for instance, and lower scores on

general anxiety and depression indices. Two weaknesses of

these previous investigations will be examined in this sec-

tion. After each is examined, a rationale for the present

study will be presented, together with the hypotheses to

be tested.







The Complexity of Death Orientation and
Optimal Functioning


The first limitation noted in previous research is that

death orientation and optimal functioning have been conceptu-

alized frequently in unidimensional terms, with single scale

questionnaires to assess death anxiety or death fear and

single scale questionnaires to assess self-esteem, purpose

in life, or general anxiety. Studies which have operation-

alized death orientation or optimal functioning in a more

complex manner have, nonetheless, examined individual cor-

relations between subscales rather than the overall pattern

of the relationships. Results which support a relationship

between low death fear, for instance, and high scores on

two or three Personality Orientation Inventory (POI) sub-

scales are more suggestive than conclusive. One might wonder

whether death orientation is related to optimal functioning

overall, or merely to the specific aspects measured by the

two or three POI subscales. The present study represents

an attempt to conceptualize multidimensionally both death

orientation and optimal functioning.

The multidimensional nature of death orientation has

been reflected through the use of the Collett-Lester Fear of

Death Scale (FDS) and the Threat Index (TI), each of which

represents a multidimensional approach to death orientation.

The FDC3 .was constructed to assess the four predetermined

aspects of death previously described, and the TI reflects

the idiosyncratic dimensions each person constructs to




43


understand and anticipate the phenomenon of death. Further-

more, the TI and the FDS represent a combination of the two

empirically derived (Rigdon & Epting, 1981) factors of nega-

tive evaluation of death (TI scores and scores on th& FDS

subscales for fear of death and dying of self and death of

others) and avoidance of the dying and of death reminders

(scores on the FDS subscales for fear of death and dying of

others). From several perspectives, therefore, the FDS an

the TI represent a multidimensional approach to death orien

station. The third empirically derived factor (the frequency

of thoughts about death) was not assessed in the present

study for two reasons. First of all, previous research mor

frequently has explored the relationship of aspects of opti

mal functioning with death attitude measures that load highly

on the first two factors of negative evaluation and avoidane

Secondly, there seems to be no compelling reason to believe

that optimally functioning persons think about death more

frequently or less frequently than other people.

An additional advantage of using the TI arises fromth

attempt to conceptualize death orientation in theoretical

terms. Whereas. other conceptualizations are in general tem

of fear, anxiety, concern, or acceptance, personal construc

theory, on whicn the 71 is based, provides a conceptualizato
of death orientation in terms of threat, i.e., the aarenes

at the prospect of imminent death, of comprehensive cange

in the constructs used to clarify and maintain one's dentty
Futeroe cntuc hor ousso teay n uget







how to reduce threat so that significant personality change

and growth can continue.

A multidimensional conceptualization of optimal function-

ing is reflected in this study through the use of differen-

tiation, integration, and purpose in life. Differentiation

represents an important process in optimal functioning--the

development of independent perspectives regarding a set of

events such as personal death and dying. Differentiation

was operationalized in two ways. The first was Landfield's

procedure for calculating the number of Functionally Inde-

pendent Constructions (FIC) each person uses for interpreting

the phenomenon of death. The second was the number of times

a person indicated that neither pole of a construct applied

or a lack of certainty about which pole applied. This index

of the applicability of the constructs is referred to as the

range of convenience (ROC). Crum (1978) reported a signifi-

cant correlation between FIC and ROC (r = .80), and he found

that ROC scores,like FIC scores, predicted performance on

several variables. The FIC effect, however, was more fre-

quently significant, whereas the effect of ROC was often

oni, marginally significant. Both process and structural

aspects of optimal functioning are reflected in integration

--the development of hierarchically arranged constructs which

permit the system to function as a coordinated network. Land-

field's ordination and chi-squared indices served as operations

of integration in the person's death-related construct system.

Finally, the content aspect of optimal functioning is reflected








in a person's set of beliefs relative to life's purpose and

meaning, assessed by the Purpose in Life Test (PIL).

The first hypothesis for this investigation arose from

the multidimensional conceptualization of death orientation

and optimal functioning and from previous research support-

ing an inverse relationship between death anxiety or fear

of death and aspects of optimal functioning. A significant

inverse relationship is predicted between death orientation

and optimal functioning. Specifically, low fear of death

and dying of self, low fear of the death and dying of others,

and low death threat are related to high purpose in life and

highly differentiated (as assessed by FIC and ROC) and highly

integrated (as assessed by ordination and chi-squared) con-

struct systems for anticipating death.


Two Experimental Hypotheses


A second weakness of previous studies, in addition to

the frequently unidimensional conceptualization of death

orientation and optimal functioning, has been a lack of an

experimental test for two rival hypotheses that may explain

the correlation between positive death orientation and

optimal functioning. It may be that a person's ability to

cope with stressful. life events determines the efficiency of

one's strategies for coping with death. On the other hand,

a person's ability to come to terms with death in a positive,

accepting way may determine one's ability to live a healthy,

productive life.








Investigators may hesitate to test these competing hy-

potheses because of the difficulty in changing death-related

attitudes. A variety of studies have investigated ways to

improve death attitudes. Preexisting groups such as Zen

meditators and Buddhists (Garfield, 1975), meditators (Curtis,

1980), and creative artists (Goodman, 1975) have been found

to have lower death anxiety than control subjects. Other

studies have used a quasi-experimental design, comparing

the death orientation of groups who completed death educa-

tion experiences to the orientation of control group subjects.

Some studies have not found the expected changes in death

attitudes. Bell (1975), for instance, reported no differ-

ences in fear of death, although participants in the death

education course thought about death more frequently than

control subjects and were more interested in discussing

death. And Rainey and Epting (1977) found lower death

threat in death education students not only after the course,

but also before it began, indicating that positive death

orientation may be a selection factor for death education

courses. In a similar study by Tobacyk and Eckstein (1980),

however, death education students, compared to another group

of students, had lower TT scores, when pretreatment differ-

ences in threat were statistically controlled. Several

other studies have also supported the effectiveness of

death education experiences. Murray (1974) and Whelan and

Warren (1930) found reduction in death anxiety when the post-

test was delayed for four and eight weeks, respectively, after








the death-related experience had ended, suggesting that it

may take some time for changes in death attitudes to be con-

solidated. Durlak (1978) found that an eight-hour didactic,

information-oriented workshop on death reduced death anxiety

(DAS scores) more than an experiential, feeling-oriented

workshop, while the experiential workshop resulted in lower

death fear (scores on Lester's FDS). In a similar experiment

(Kurlychek, 1978b), participants randomly assigned to an

experiential death education course had lower fear of the

death of others than participants assigned to an information-

discussion course on death and a waiting list control group.

But the information-discussion course produced lower

fear of death of self, compared to the waiting list controls.

Interestingly, Durlak and Kurlychek also investigated the

effect of the death-related experiences on purpose in life,

one aspect of optimal functioning as conceptualized in the

present study. Durlak reported no impact of either workshop

or. PIL scores, while Kurlychek found that the experiential

death education course, compared to the information course

and the waiting list group, produced higher PIL scores.

In light of the perspective previously presented from

existential philosophy and personal construct psychology,

the present study was an experimental test of the impact of

positive death orientation on optimal functioning. In addi-

tion to the previous correlational hypothesis, two experimen-

tal hypotheses were generated. First, it was hypothesized

that the treatment groups, compared to the control group,







will have more positive death orientation, i.e., lower fear

of death and dying of self and of others and lower death

threat. This is a check on the effectiveness of the treat-

ments. Second, the treatment groups, compared to the control

group, will be functioning at a more optimal level at post-

test. In other words, they will have more purpose in life

and will be more differentiated and integrated in their

constructed anticipations of death.

The importance of resolving this issue can be seen in

the implications for therapy, counseling for personal growth,

and death education. Death should be a central issue in

therapy and counseling, as Rowe (1982) believed, if a change

to a more positive death orientation results in healthier

functioning. Death education courses would acquire an im-

portance not only for their potential to change attitudes

about death and dying, but also for their potential to pro-

duce a higher level of functioning in life. Should evidence

support the impact of general life coping strategies on one's

approach to death and dying, then counseling for personal

growth might profitably focus on life coping skills, and

death education would lose some of its importance as a

personal growth experience.













CHAPTER II
METHOD



Subjects



Participants in the study were undergraduate students

in general psychology, who received course credit for their

participation. Of the 96 who participated, 79 were fresh-

men or sophomores. Their ages ranged from 17 to 32, with a

median age of 18.8. All but ten were in the 18 to 20 age

range. An equal number of 48 females and 48 males partici-

pated. Four of the subjects were black; the others were

white.



Instruments



The four questionnaires for this experiment were the

Threat Index (TI), the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale

(FDS), the Purpose in Life Test (PIL), and a Personal Data

Questionnaire (PDQ). Appendices A, B, and C contain a copy

of the questionnaires, except for the copyrighted PIL.


Threat Inde:r (TI)


Because the process of eliciting death-related constructs

from each person is time-consuming, the present investigation







used a provided form of the TI, consisting of 30 of the most

frequently elicited death-related constructs. Krieger,

Epting, and Hays (1979) initially developed the 40-construct

provided form, the TIp4O. The number of constructs was re-

duced later to 30 (Neimeyer, Dingemans, & Epting, 1977).

For the present study, a new TIp30 was introduced. Like the

former TIp30, it used 30 constructs appearing on the TIp40.

An examination of five of those constructs suggested that

they were elicited not by death as an event, but by the con-

crete stimulus "death" which was an element subjects used to

generate the initial constructs in the elicited version of

the TI. These five constructs were: relating to others-not

relating to others, specific-general, concrete-abstract,

personal-impersonal, and subjective-objective. Compared to

the other death elements, this vague "death" element could

reasonably be described by the right pole in each of the five

constructs. Accordingly, these five constructs were replaced

with five others'from the TIp40 which were more clearly re-

lated to death as a personal event: pleasure-pain, helping

o'her.3-beipg selfish, insecure-secure, useful-useless, and

sta:n.-it ion-growth.

The scalar form of the TI was used. According to this

form, the elements are rated along 13-point scales, with the

construct poles as the end points. Furthermore, in order to

score the TI [or the differentiation and integration indices,

one slight modification was initiated. In addition to rating

the standard elements self and my own death, each person rated










changes, from previous TI research (Krieger et al., 1974;

Rainey & Epting, 1977). To control for an order effect,

these 10 elements (listed in Appendix A) were presented to

each participant in random. order after the self and personal

death elements. The 30 constructs also were presented to

each participant in three different random orderings.

The TI was scored for the number of splits between the

way self and my own death were rated. A person, for instance,

who rated self as useful and death as useless received a scare

of one split. The total score was the number of splits for

the 30 constructs. Because the ratings allowed for a neutral

zero rating, each participant was requested to make a second

choice for those constructs on which the zero point was usecd

to rate self or personal death.

Various forms of the TI have Droduced acceptable esti-

mates of reliability, with a median test-retest coefficient

of .86 for a 4-week period and a median split-half coefficient

of .93 (Rigdon et al., 1979). Research has also supported

the validity of the TI as a measure of death orientation

(Rigdon et al., 1979). Threat index scores correlate moder-

ately with scores on a variety of other death orientation

instruments, for instance, and those who had planned their

funeral or provided for body disposal at death had, as ex-

pected, lower T1 scores than nonplanners.

In addition to the number of splits, the Threat Index







self and personal death were rated (WTI), an index used by

Warren (1982) in place of the split score. A person, for

example, who rated self as extremely useful (+6) and death

as slightly useful (+2) would receive a score of 4 on that

construct. The WTI score was the total for the 30 constructs.

The number of zeros the participant initially used to rate

personal death was also calculated because meaning depolari-

zation (i.e., the tendency to rate elements toward the

neutral midpoint) is considered in construct theory as an

indicator of possible anxiety (Rigdon et al., 1979)--an event

the person is unable to make any sense of. Although the

hypotheses for the experiment were not phrased in terms of

the difference score (WTI) or the number of zeros, post hoc

analysis would include these potentially useful variables.

The ratings of the 10 death-related elements were scored

for range of convenience (ROC) simply by counting the number

of zero ratings. The scoring for the Landfield FIC, ordina-

tion, and chi-square indices was more complex (Landfield &

Schmittdiel, 1981; Leitner et al., 1976). For FIC, each

construct dimension was matched with each other construct

dimension, and it was noted when there was agreement in the

application of the two constructs to the death-related events.

The fewer the instances of overlap, the more functional inde-

pendence of the two constructs; the more overlap, the more

functional similarity. Using the standard 30% overlap

criterion, two constructs were considered functionally

identical when the participant used the same construct pole








Lo describe eight of the ten death-related elements. The

same procedure was applied to the 10 death-related elements.

Two elements were considered functionally identical if the

participant used the same pole of 24 of the 30 constructs

to describe the two events. The number of functionally

independent constructs and the number of functionally inde-

pendent elements were surnmmed for a total FIC score.

To calculate the ordination score for a construct, the

10 element ratings on that construct were examined. If a

participant used only three different rating points (e.g.,

2, 5, and 6), a score of 3 was multiplied by the difference

between the highest and lowest ratings (6 2 = 4) for a

score of 12. This calculation w.as made for all 30 of the

30 scores. Similarly, ordination scores were calculated for

each of the elements. The number of different rating points

used in describing an element with the 30 constructs was

multiplied by the difference between the high and low ratings.

The ordination score for the elements was the average of the

10 element scores, which was then combined with the average

ordination score for constructs for a total ordination score.

To calculate the chi-square index for a construct, it

was necessary to count the number of times that each rating

point was used to describe the 10 death-related elements.

From these frequencies, the chi-square statistic was calcu-

lated as a measure of the difference from a rectangular

distribution in which all ratings are used with equal fre-

quency. After the chi-square statistic was calculated for







the 30 constructs, an average was taken as the chi-square

score for constructs. An average chi-square score for

elements was also calculated and added to the average chi-

square score for constructs to create a total chi-square

score.

The Landfield indices for differentiation and integration

(including ROC) were calculated from the TI ratings by com-

puter (Landfield, Page, Barrows, Willis, Lavelle, & Schmittdiel,

1981). To ensure that threat scores be mathematically inde-

pendent of the differentiation and integration indices, no

ratings were scored for both threat and the latter indices.

Differentiation and integration scores were calculated on the

ratings of the 10 death-related elements only, while the rat-

ings of self and personal death were used to derive death

threat scores.

For clients in therapy, Landfield (1971) reported test-

retest reliability coefficients of FIC scores of approximately

.50. These low correlations are not so surprising, in that

therapy should produce change in the clients' construct

systems. In this population, one would expect change in

FIC scores rather than stability. The stability of FIC

scores needs to be examined with participants for whom no

intervention occurs from pretest to posttest. Crum (1978)

reported a test-retest reliability coefficient of .71 for

ROC scores and a low .48 for ordination scores. These co-

efficients may have been artificially reduced by the fatigue

of the participants, who completed the retest after a two-hour








experimental session. Crum reported that many subjects

seemed bored and completed the retest in a hurried manner.

Reliability estimates for chi-squared have not been reported.


The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS)


This questionnaire consist of 36 items to which a per-

son responds on a 6-point scale to indicate slight, moderate,

or extreme agreement or slight, moderate, or extreme dis-

agreement with each statement. The FDS is scored for four

aspects of death orientation: fear of the death or dying of

self and fear of the death or dying of others. As summarized

by Lester (1974) and by Wass (in press), the evidence supports

the test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the

FDS. The validity also has been supported by moderate corre-

lations between FDS subscale scores and scores on several

other death attitude scales.


The Purpose in Life Test (PIL)


Participants respond to the 20 PIL items on a 7-point

scale to indicate little meaning in life (score of 1) or

significant meaning in life (score of 7). Investigations of

the reliability of the PIL have resulted in a median split-

half reliability coefficient of .91 (Crumbaugh & Maholick,

1969; Reker & Cousins, 1979). Test-retest reliability ranged

from .83 for one week to .68 for 12 weeks (Reker, 1977). Evi-

dence supporting the validity of the PIL as a measure of mean-

ing in life was presented earlier.








The Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ)


Items were constructed to assess demographic variables,

participants' religious beliefs and practices, and their pre-

vious experience of near-death or the death of significant

others. Analyses involving the variables assessed by the

PDQ are regarded as post hoc, in that no a priori hypotheses

were generated.



Procedure



To carry out the experimental design required two ses-

sions. The first session involved the completion of the

pretest questionnaires and participation in a death-related

experience for the treatment groups or an alternative exper-

ience for the control group. In the second session, partic-

ipants completed the posttest questionnaires.


First Session


Participation in the experiment was in groups, ranging

in size from 9 to 12 members. The session began with a

description of the purpose of the study and of the procedures

as stated on the informed consent form (Appendix D). After

an opportunity to ask questions, the participants signed the

informed consent form. Each participant next received a








packet of four questionnaires in random order: the TI, the

FDS, the PIL, and the PDQ. When every member of the group

had completed the questionnaires (45 minutes to an hour),

the group members participated in the experience to which

they were randomly assigned: the death-related experience

of writing an obituary/biography (Appendix E) or of writing

a farewell letter (Appendix F) or the stress management ex-

perience (Appendix G) not related to death (control group).

The two death-related experiences were selected as com-

monly used components of death education courses that are

likely to reduce threat, in that both involve the playful,

imaginative realization of one's personal mortality. Writing

the farewell letter invites the person to behave "as if"

he/she were dying, and writing an obituary/biography invites

the person to act "as if" he/she were dead. Just as the

playful enactment of a new role in fixed role therapy (Kelly,

1955) provides for the development of new constructs to sup-

port the new behavior as "my own," so the enactment of oneself

as dying or dead would provide the opportunity to resolve the

split between self and death through the development of super-

ordinate construct dimensions which resolve the split. The

use of these two experiences to reduce death threat permits

the determination of whether these components of death educa-

tion courses are the ones that are generally responsible for

the change in death attitudes reported as the result of death

education courses, which are comprised of a multitude of

components, both informational and experiential.







The stress management experience (Apgar & Callahan, 1980)

was selected as a treatment which was not related to death,

but one that would be interesting and useful to the partici-

pants in the study.

Each experience began with a brief introduction and a

period of time for the participants to complete their written

response, followed by an opportunity to share with others

what they had written and to discuss the meaning of the ex-

perience and their reaction to it. The discussion phase of

the stress management experience was more structured, involv-

ing the presentation of information about stress and its

control, as well as an opportunity to practice a relaxation

exercise. Each experience lasted for about an hour, after

which participants selected a time to return for the second

session seven weeks later.


Second Session


A reminder of the second appointment was mailed to all

participants. When they arrived for the second session, they

completed the TI, the FDS, and the PIL, once again in groups

of 9 to 12. This session ended with an opportunity to re-

quest feedback about the results of the investigation.













CHAPTER IIT
RESULTS



This chapter will present the results of the analyses

of data provided by the participants in this study. After

data regarding instrument reliability are presented, the re-

sults pertaining to each hypothesis will be presented in order,

followed by a presentation of analyses for variables about

which no a priori. hypotheses were generated.



Instrument Reliability



The provided form of the T1 used in this study involved

minor changes from previous TI research. Evidence regarding

the reliability of this TI form was, therefore, important.

The data supported both the internal consistency of the TT

(split-half r = .90, corrected by the Spear-man-Brown formula)

and the test-retest stability for the 31 control participants

over seven weeks (r = .73). These reliability estimates are

comparable to those previously reportedI for other TI forms

(Rigdon et al., 1979).

While the stability of the- overall FDS scores (summing

the four subscale scores) was acceptable (r_ = .76), only the

DyS (fear of dying of self) subscale scores matched that level

of relationship (r_ ! .73). Pre-post correlations for the DS







(fear of death of self; .59), DO (fear of death of others;

.42), and DyO (fear of dying of others; .46) subscales,

though significant, are lower than one might wish, perhaps

due to the small number of items for some of the subscales.

Furthermore, the FDS subscale intercorrelations (Table 1)

were surprisingly high, some apparently higher than the

estimates of individual subscale stability. One would expect

greater independence between supposedly orthogonal aspects

of death orientation.

PIL scores, on the other hand, were quite stable (r =

.85). The other optimal functioning indices, unfortunately,

did not seem to have the same level of stability as PIL scores.

Pretest-posttest correlations for FIC (functionally independ-

ent constructions; .52), ROC (range of convenience; .60), and

chi-square (.65) scores indicated significant, though mod-

erate stability. There was no relationship, however, between

ordination scores derived from the two testing sessions (r =

.18, n.s.). Furthermore, there was post hoc evidence that

the scores of the 31 control group members significantly

decreased on the three most stable reptest indices, although

not on ordination scores (Table 2).

In summary, the results supported the reliability of the

TI, the PIL, and the FDS subscale for fear of the dying of

self (DyS). The moderate support for the stability of three

FDS subscales (DS, DO, and DyO) and of FIC, ROC, and chi-

square scores was less than one might expect. The results

simply failed to support the reliability of ordination scores.















DS DyS DO DyO

DS --.63 .63 .28

Dys .61 .55

DO --.34

DyO -

Note. For all correlations, p < .003. DS=
Fear of the death of self. DyS = Fear of the dy-
ing of self. Do = Fear of the death of others.
DyO = Fear of the dying of others.







Table 2
Post IHoc Tests of Differences between
Pretest and Posttest Mean Scores on
Differentiation and Integration Indices


Index Pretest Posttestt(0
Mean Mean P_

ROC 43.6 20.5 4.42 <.001
(36.2) (20.7)
FIC 14.1 9.6 4.22 <.001
(6.5) (5.3)
CHI 55.1 48.9 2.34 <.026
(28.7) (20.8)
ORD 37.7 39.1 -.85 n.s.
(7.0) (7.5)

Note. Standard deviations are in parentheses.
ROC Range of convenience. FIC = Functionally inde-
pendent constructions. CHI = Chi-square. ORD
Ordination.








First Hypothesis



The first hypothesis predicted a significant inverse

relationship between death orientation and optimal function-

ing. More specifically, low fear of death and dying of self,

low fear of the death and dying of others, and low death

threat were predicted to be related to high purpose in life

and to highly differentiated and highly integrated construct

systems for anticipating death.

This hypothesis was tested using the pretest scores of

the 96 participants on the FDS, the PIL, and the TI (includ-

ing scores for the differentiation and integration indices).

As stated before, two scores were derived from the PIL: a

total score on all 20 items and a second score excluding

items 10 and 15, which appear to assess a person's attitudes

about personal death. To prevent participants' responses on

these two items from artificially inflating the relationship

between purpose in life and the death orientation variables,

the plan was to perform the analyses with and without these

two items. For the whole sample, the two scores were prac-

tically identical (r = .99). In order to have results that

are comparable to others using the PIL therefore, the analy-

ses which involved purpose in life used the participants'

total PIL scores. Pretest death orientation and optimal

functioning scores were analyzed by three multivariate pro-

cedures: canonical correlation, analysis of variance, and

multiple regression.















the pretest scores to estimate the amount of overlap between

the death orientation variables, on the one hand, and the

optimal functioning variables, on the other. An examination

of the correlation between the differentiation and integra-

tion indices, however, revealed strong relationships between

several of the optimal functioning variables (Table 3).

Entering all four variables in the same canonical analysis

would contradict the assumption of the relative independence

of the variables in each set in a canonical correlation.

One solution for this problem of multicallinearity (Green,

1973) is to drop from the analysis one highly overlapping

variable, retaining those that have the most theoretical

importance. For that reason, analysis of the pretest scores

initially used the FIC index because, as a differentiation

index, it is rooted more directly in construct theory than

ROC scores. As an integration index, thie first analysis

used chi-square scores which were develo-ped as an improve-

ment over ordination. Analyses were al-so performed using

heless highly related FIC and ordination scores as differ-

entiation and integration indices and, finally, the ROC and

ordination scores. Because of the potential multicollinearity,

scores which had a correlation greater than /.70/were not in-

clude-d toge-ther in any analysis: FIC and ROC (r = .74), ROC

















Table 3
Pretest Intercorrelations between
Indices of Differentiation and Integration


Chi-square Ordination ROC

FIC .35* -.26 .74*

Cni-square -- -.82* .76*

Ordination -- -.51*

ROC

Note. Scores were based on responses of all 96
participants.
*p <.001.







and chi-square (r = .76), and ordination and chi-square (r =

-.82). The analyses (Table 4) supported a consistent rela-

tionship between positive death orientation and the optimal

functioning variables. Using a standard .30 value to gauge

the importance of each variable's contribution to the over-

all relationship indicates that low death threat, low fear

of one's own dying, and of the death and dying of others is

related to high purpose in life, high FIC and ROC scores

(highly differentiated views of death), and low ordination

and high chi-square scores (low integration in viewing death).

This relationship is evident in similar analyses that used

FIC, ordination, and chi-square scores for constructs only

(Table 4), instead of the total scores described earlier,

which were calculated for both constructs and elements. The

relationship between death orientation and optimal function-

ing was as predicted, except that positive death orientation

unexpectedly was related to low integration in viewing death

(low ordination and high chi-square scores).

A multivariate analysis of participants' scores on all

variables revealed evidence of initial sex differences (Table

5), due to differences in scores on four of the five death

orientation scales (Table 6). Female participants scored

significantly higher than males on fear of the death of

self (10.5 and 1.3), fear of dying of self (5.8 and 0.9),

fear of the death of others (10.6 and 3.7), and death threat

(17.7 and 13.5).















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Table 5
Manova Summary Table for Pretest
Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores


Source of variation df F

Sex of participant 10,81 2.81*

Treatment condition
Contrast between control and
average of two treatments 10,81 1.00
Contrast between two treatments 10,81 <1

Treatment by sex, roots 1 and 2 20,162 <1

Treatment by sex, root 2 9,81.5 <1

Note. The effect of treatment condition was tested
by the two a priori orthogonal comparisons. Tests of
significance used the Wilks Lambda criterion.
*E <.005.
















Table 6
Analysis of Variance of Death Orientation
and Optimal Functioning Scores
for Sex Differences


Dependent variable MS F(1,90) p

Fear of death of self (DS) 1932.89 16.96 <.001
Fear of dying of self (DyS) 532.02 16.21 <.001
Fear of death of others (DO) 1066.17 .14.16 <.001
Fear of dying of others (DyO) 17.35 <1
Death threat (TI) 422.14 7.80 <.006
Purpose in life (PIL) 26.30 <1
Functionally independent
constructions (FIC) 101.62 2.41 <.124
Range of convenience (ROC) 1050.90 <1
Chi-square 188.02 <1
Ordination 4.38 <1




69


Because of the initial sex differences in death oren

station, canonical analyses were performed separately on

scores of the female and the male participants (Table7_

For the females, the results were similar to those ofth

whole group, with low death threat and low fear of the dyin

of self and of the death of others significantly associte

with high purpose in life, high differentiation (FIC), n

low integration (high chi-square and low ordination).Fo

the males, lowq fear of the dying of self and others wasre

lated significantly to high purpose in life, with theote

variables not making an important contribution to therea

tionship between death orientation and optimal functionng


Multivariate Analyses of Variance


In addition to exploring the linear relationship bewen

optimal functioning and death orientation variables, a secnd

method was used to explore the additive effects of some var-

able sets. Previous investigations (Crum, 1978; Landfed

1979; Landfield & Schmittdiel, 1981; Wilkins, 1978) hav

explored, for instance, the interaction between FIC an ori-

nation indices by analysis of variance, using a median pi

on both indices. In order to examine the Landfield indce

in a manner comparable to previous studies, similar nlic

that categorized participants by high versus low,!soes,,r

performed to explore potential interactive effectsatog

no a prior~i hypotheses w,.ere generated for the presetsuy












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inter-ctlon between FIC and chi-square (Table 8) or between

FIC an.d ordination (Table 9). Nor was there evidence from

these analyses of any significant main effects on death orien-

tation scores for FIC, chi-square, or ordination.


Mult iple Regression Analyses


A final method for studying the relationship between

death orientation and optimal functioning was to examine the

ability of the optimal functioning variables to predict scores

on the TI as a single criterion, because the TI can be consid-

ered by itself to be a multidimensional measure of death atti-

tudes. Due to the multicollinearity problem mentioned before,

the multiple regression analyses once again used the differen-

tiation and integration indices in pairs that were not highly

correlated. Although the overall regression equations approached

significance (Table 10), there was no evidence that the optimal

functioning variables accurately predicted TI scores.

In summary, the results of the canonical correlation

analyses support the hypothesized association between positive

death orientation and the optimal functioning variables. The

relationship was as predicted, except that participants with

oositiLve death orientation tended to have lower, rather than

higher integration in their views of death. Although females

generally had higher scores on the death orientation scales,

the relationship between positive death orientation and opti-

mal functioning held for both females and males. There was a

difference, however, in the pattern of this relationship.

















Table 8
Manova Summary Table for Effects of
High Versus Low FIC and Chi-square Scores
on Death Orientation Scores


Source of variation df F p

FIC 5,88 1.12 n.s.

Chi-square 5,88 1.87 <.11

FIC by chi-square 5,88 <1


Note.
criterion.


Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda

















Table 9
Nanova Summary Table for Effects of
High Versus Low FIC and Ordination Scores
on Death Orientation Scores


Source of variation df F p

FIC 5,88 1.13 n.s.

Ordination 5,88 1.64 <.16

FIC by ordination 5,88 <1

Note. Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda
criterion.

















Table 10
Multiple Regressions of Death Threat Scores
on Selected Optinal Functioning Variables


Predictor variables

PIL, FIC, and ordination

PIL, FIC, and chi-square

PIL, ROC, and ordination


R2

.07

.07

.06


F(3,92)

2.35

2.32

2.07


<.08

<.08

<.11


--







For Lhe females, the pattern was similar to that of the whole

group, in that low threat and low fear ofthe dying ofself

and of the death of others were associated with high purpose

in life, high differentiation, and low integration. For the

males, low fear of the dying of self and of others was asso-

ciated with high purpose in life. For the males, neither the

differentiation and integration scores nor the other death

orientation scores contributed to the relationship. There

was no evidence from the multivariate analyses of variance

of an interactive effect of differentiation and integration

indices on death orientation scores. Ior did the optimal

functioning variables, according to the multiple regression

analyses, accurately predict TI scores taken as a single

estimate of death orientation.



-Second Hypothesis



The second hypothesis represents a check on the effective-

ness of the two treatments which were predicted to increase

the positive death orientation of the participants. Compared

to the control group participants, those who participated in

the death-related experiences were expected to have, at post-

test, lower fear of the death and dying of self and others

and lower death threat. To ensure an initial similarity in

death orientation and optimal functioning between the treat-

ment groups, a multivariate analysis of the pretest scores

on the five death orientation and the five optimal functioning







variables was performed, with sex and treatment level as the

two independent factors (Table 5). There was no evidence for

any interaction between treatment condition and participant

sex. As previously noted, the analysis did indicate higher

scores for female participants on four of the five death

orientation scales. There was no evidence, how'.'ever, of any

overall difference between the two treatment groups, or be-

tw:een the treatment groups and the control group on the death

orientation and optimal functioning variables. Even a post

hoc examination of the univariate tests associated with each

dependent variable (Table 11) indicated little evidence for

an, differences, with only the apparent differences in TI

scores, ordination scores, and chi-square scores approaching

significance (Table 12). The results indicate relative simi-

larity between participants in the three treatment conditions

in their initial level of death orientation and optimal

functioning.

A multivariate analysis of variance of the death orien-

tation scores of the 95 participants who returned for posttest

(Table 13) produced results similar to the results from the

prete.t scores. Once again, there was no evidence for a sig-

nificant interaction between participant sex and treatment

condition. The sex differences remained stable, with the

females continuing to exhibit a more negative death orienta-

tion as at pretest. Specifically, they had higher mean scores

for the same death orientation scales: TI (19.1 for females

and 1C.3 for males), DS (6.7 and 1.9), DyS (7.1 and 2.1), and

















Table 11
Anovas for Treatment Differences in Pretest
Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores


Variable MS F(1,90) P MS F(1,90) p

DS 25.45 <1 152.25 1.34 <.25
DyS 1.22 <1 23.84 <1
DO 99.68 1.32 <.25 86.73 1.15 <.29
DyO 3.23 <1 3.90 <1
TI 132.31 2.45 <.12 39.46 <1
PIL 20.25 <1 65.57 <1
FIC .38 <1 97.35 2.31 <.13
ROC 4058.65 1.88 <.17 3330.37 1.54 <.22
CHI 8728.50 3.56 <.063 137.54 <1
ORD 332.66 3.52 <.064 9.45 <1

















Table 12
Mean Scores for Death Threat, Ordination, and
Chi-square by Treatment Conditions for
Pretest and Posttest


Treatment Variable
TI Ordination Chi-square

Pretest
Obituary/biography 14.0 34.4 76.1
Farewell letter 15.5 33.2 74.6
Stress management control 17.3 37.8 54.7

Posttest
Obituary/biography 16.3 36.4 62.5
Farewell letter 17.5 33.5 64.3
Stress management control 19.2 39.0 45.2


Note. For each group, n = 31, except for the farewell
letter treatment group at pretest (n = 34) and at posttest
(n = 33).

















Table 13
Manova Summary Table for Posttest
Death Orientation Scores


Source of variation df F p

Sex of participant 5,85 3.25 <.01

Treatment condition
Contrast between control and
average of two treatments 5,85 <1
Contrast between two treatments 5,85 1.06 <.39

Treatment by sex
Roots 1 and 2 10,170 1.30 <.235
Root 2 4,85.5 <1


Note.
criterion.


Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda







DO (7.8 and 4.2). Support for a difference in the mean

scores on the DyO subscale (-2.0 and -5.0) was marginal

(Table 14). There was no evidence that the two death-related

treatments, compared to each other or compared to the stress

management control condition, produced any difference in

death orientation. A post hoc examination of the univariate

tests of the five death orientation variables (Table 15) also

revealed no evidence of differences. The only F test larger

than 1 was associated with mean TI scores (Table 12), but

even this apparent difference was not significant. Overall,

the results did not support the effectiveness of either death-

related experience for producing a more positive death orien-

tation.

In order to prevent an interpretation of the apparently

lower TI scores for the treatment groups compared to the con-

trol group (Table 12) as an effect of the treatment conditions,

a multivariate analysis of covariance was conducted on the

posttest death orientation scores adjusted for possible pre-

test differences in TI scores (Table 16). This analysis also

failed to support a treatment effect or an effect for the

interaction of treatment and sex of participant. Of the

post hoc univariate F tests comparing the effect of the two

treatments to the control condition on the five death orienta-

tion scores, only the F statistic for DO scores was greater

than 1 [F(1,88) = 1.05, p < .31]. As indicated by the pre-

vious analysis, sex differences remained in the posttest

death orientation scores. Neither the multivariate analysis

















Table 14
Anovas for Sex Differences in Posttest
Death Orientation Scores


Variable MS F(1,89) p

Fear of death of self (DS) 457.64 5.18 <.025

Fear of dying of self (DyS) 540.35 13.77 <.001

Fear of death of others (DO) 255.32 5.26 <.024

Fear of dying of others (DyO) 207.20 2.28 <.135

Death threat (TI) 164.10 2.77 <.100

















Table 15
Anovas for Treatment Differences in
Posttest Death Orientation Scores


Contrast between
control and average Contrast between
of two treatments two treatments
Variable rMS F(1,89) E Mrs F(1,89) p

DS 6.19 <1 6.80 <1

DyS .44 <1 1.99 <1

DO 26.45 <1 116.38 2.40 <.125

DyO .22 <1 150.79 1.66 <.200

TI 126.38 2.13 <.15 47.95 <1

















Table 16
Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of
Posttest Death Orientation Scores with
Pretest Death Threat Scores as Covariate


Soreof variation df F p-

Cvrate (TI) 5,84 13.10 <.001

Se participant 5,84 2.42 <.043

Tetent condition
Cotrast between control and
garage of two treatments 5,84 <1
Cotrast between two treatments 5,84 <1

Tetent by sex
Rots 1 and 2 10,168 1.48 <.15
Rot 2 4,84.5 <1







of variance nor the multivariate analysis of covariance re-

vealed any evidence that the two death-related experiences,

compared to the stress management experience, reduced the

participants' level of death threat and fear. The results

failed to support the second hypothesis.



Third Hypothesis



A higher level of optimal functioning for participants

in the death-related treatments compared to the control group

members was predicted in the third hypothesis. As indicated

above, analysis of the pretest scores did not provide evidence

of pretest differences in optimal functioning. A multivariate

analysis of variance of the posttest scores on the optimal

functioning variables similarly failed to support either a

significant interaction between participants' sex and treat-

ment condition, or a significant difference due to sex (Table

17). Contrary to expectation, however, there was no indication

of the increased optimal functioning of participants in the

death-related experiences. A post hoc examination of the

univariate tests of each of the five optimal functioning

variables revealed the same support found in the pretest

scores for lower integration in the treatment groups, with

higher chi-square scores and marginally lower ordination

scores (Tables 18 and 12).

In order to prevent an interpretation of the post hoc

indication of lower integration as an effect of the death-related


















Table 17
Manova Summary Table for Posttest
Optimal Functioning Scores


Source of variation df F p

Sex of participant 5,85 1.50 <.20

Treatment condition
Contrast between control and
average of two treatments 5,85 1.16 <.33
Contrast between two treatments 5,85 1.14 <.35

Treatment by sex
Roots 1 and 2 10,170 1.16 <.32
Root 2 4,85.5 <1

Note. Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda
criterion.

















Table 18
Anovas for Treatment Effects on
Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores


Contrast between
control and average Contrast between
of two treatments two treatments
Variable MS F(1,89) p MSS F(1,89) p

PIL 28.03 <1 2.61 <1

FIC 14.46 <1 45.64 1.59 <.21

ROC 590.04 <1 2903.79 2.25 <.14

CHI 7099.95 4.52 <.036 11.05 <1

ORD 351.62 3.57 <.062 129.65 1.32 <.25







experiences, a multivariate analysis of covariance was con-

ducted on the posttest optimal functioning scores adjusted

for possible pretest differences in ordination and chi-square

scores (Table 19). As in the previous analysis of the post-

test optimal functioning scores, neither the treatment effect

nor the interaction between treatment and sex was significant.

Even the univariate F tests for the five optimal functioning

variables failed to indicate any post hoc evidence for treat-

ment differences in optimal functioning scores. Finally,

although the multivariate test indicated a significant sex

difference in the adjusted optimal functioning scores, the

follow-up univariate tests did not reveal the nature of this

difference. Only the test for the adjusted chi-square scores

approached significance [F(1,87) = 3.81, p < .054].

To summarize, neither the multivariate analysis of post-

test optimal functioning scores nor the multivariate analysis

of covariance supported the significant effect of the death-

related treatment experiences predicted in the third hypothesis.



Additional Analyses



Besides the analyses linked to the three central hypothe-

ses, further analyses were performed regarding relationships

about which no specific hypotheses were generated. After

briefly reporting the results of these analyses, this section

will conclude with an overall summary of the results.

















Table 19
M.ultivariate Analysis of Covariance of Posttest
Optimal Functioning Scores with Pretest
Ordination and Chi-square Scores as Covariates


Source of variation df F p

Covariates
Roots 1 and 2 10,166 21.27 <.001
Root 2 4,83.5 9.57 <.001

Sex of participant 5,83 2.60 <.031

Treatment condition
Contrast between control and
average of two treatments 5,83 <1
Contrast between two treatments 5,83 1.09 <.37

Treatment by sex
Roots 1 and 2 10,166 1.72 <.08
Root 2 4,83.5 <1


Note.
criterion.


Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda







Peligious Beliefs and Practices


Previous research (Rigd3n et al., 1979) indicated the

potential usefulness of the TI for determining the relation-

ship between religious beliefs and death orientation. Al-

thoughy no a priori hypotheses were established for the present

study, relevant data were available to examine this relation-

ship. One-half of the participants reported they were

Protestant, 28 were Catholic, and 10 were Jewish. The

other 10 claimed other religious affiliations, including

agnosticism and atheism. In addition to indicating their

religious affiliation, participants responded to two items

regarding their overall level of religious devotion and their

belief in life after death. Three other items assessed the

frequency of attending church, saying grace, and reading the

Bible or other religious literature. When an examination of

the intercorrelations between these five items revealed a

high association between devotion and church attendance (.82),

the latter was retained in the analyses because it appeared

to be a more behavioral indication of religious devotion.

The first analysis, a canonical correlation of death orien-

tation variables and religious practice variables, revealed

a significant, moderate relationship (R = .45, R2 = .20, p <

.01) between death orientation and religious belief, with

more devout participants having more positive death orienta-

tion (Table 20). High scores on the TI, the DyS and DyO

subscales were related to a tendency not to believe in an

afterlife and to less frequent church attendance, religious












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91


reading, and saying grace. Because of the theoretical impor-

tance of the TI for the present study, the relationship between

death threat and religious practice was analyzed in particular.

A multiple regression analysis revealed a significant, moder-

ate relationship [R = .39, R2 = .15, F(4,91) = 4.02, p < .0051.

Because church attendance [F(1,91) = .021 and saying grace

[F(1,92) = .081 did not make a significant contribution to the

amount of explained variance, they were eliminated from the

analysis, resulting in a significant relationship of low death

threat to more frequent religious reading and a stronger belief

in a life after death (Table 21).


Previous Experience with Death and Dying


Of the 96 participants, 22 responded that there was a time

when they genuinely believed they were going to die, whether

from an accident (16), an illness (4), or a suicide attempt (2).

One might predict that such individuals, as a result of their

"close brush" with death, would develop a more positive death

orientation. A multivariate analysis of variance of the death

orientation scores failed to support such a hypothesis, al-

though the overall test approached significance [F(5,90) =

2.17, p < .0641 and the follow-up univariate test of the TI

scores indicated marginally lower death threat [F(1,94) = 2.70,

E < .10] for those who experienced a near-death experience

(mean = 13.23) compared to those who had not had such an
















Table 21
Multiple Regression of Pretest Death Threat
Scores on Religious Beliefs/Practices Variables


Source df MS F p

Regression 2,93 416.30 8.15 <.0005

IAD 1,93 243.72 4.77 <.03

Bible 1,93 354.06 6.93 <.01

Note. LAD = Belief in life after death. Bible =
Frequency of reading bible or religious literature.




Full Text

PAGE 1

REDUCTION IN DEATH THREAT AS A BASIS FOR OPTIMAL FUNCTIONING: THE TEST OF A CENTRAL EXISTENTIAL HYPOTHESIS BY MICHAEL A. RIGDON A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1982

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS From the beginning of this project to its completion, many people supported me. I could not have done it without their help. ,' I am grateful to Franz Epting for being my mentor during the past six years. I am grateful to Bill Froming, Scott Miller, Dave Suchman, and Hannelore VJass, each of whom made a unique contribution to my development as a psychological researcher/practitioner. I am grateful to Wayne Senfeld, Lisa Spear, and Mart Thurmond, who persistently and enthusiastically helped collect and code nearly one thousand data points for each participant. I am grateful to Imogene and Mary Lisa, my wife and daughter, who gave me the time and energy to continue and who withstood my disagreeable moods. 11

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKN0WLEDGEr4ENTS ii LIST OF TABLES V ABSTRACT , vii CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1 Death Orientation 3 Optimal Functioning 10 Maslow's Model of the Self-Actualizing Person ... 12 Landsman's Beautiful and Noble Person 14 Frankl's Model of a Meaningful Life 15 Coan's Model of the Optimal Personality 17 Kelly's Model of Optimal Functioning 17 Empirical Studies on the Correlation of Death Attitudes and Psychological Health 26 Tendencies toward Neurosis or Depression 31 General Anxiety and Other Indicators of Maladjustment 33 An Existential Hypothesis «. . 34 A Personal Construct View 37 Rationale and Hypotheses 41 The Complexity of Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning 42 Two Experimental Hypotheses 45 CHAPTER II: METHOD 49 Subjects 49 Instruments 49 Threat Index (TI) .'.'..'. 49 The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS) . . . . 55 The Purpose in Life Test (PIL) 55 The Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ) ] 56 Procedure 55 First Session 5g Second Session 5g iix

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Page CHAPTER III: RESULTS 59 Instrument Reliability 59 First Hypothesis 62 Canonical Correlation Analyses . 63 Multivariate Analyses of Variance 69 Multiple Regression Analyses 71 Second Hypothesis 75 Third Hypothesis 84 Additional Analyses 87 Religious Beliefs and Practices 89 Previous Experience with Death and Dying 91 Alternative Scores for the Threat Index 93 CHAPTER IV: DISCUSSION 97 Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Relationship 97 Effectiveness of the Death-related Experiences .... 101 Strengths and Limitations of the Present Study . . . .103 Implications for Psychotherapy and for Future Research 108 APPENDIX A APPENDIX B APPENDIX C APPENDIX D APPENDIX E APPENDIX F APPENDIX G THE THREAT INDEX 113 THE COLLETT-LESTER FEAR OF DEATH SCALE ... 115 THE PERSONAL DATA QUESTIONNAIRE 117 PARTICIPANT INF0RI4ED CONSENT FORM 119 OBITUARY/BIOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE . 120 FAP^V7ELL LETTER EXPERIENCE 122 STRESS MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE 123 REFERENCES 124 BIOGRx\PHICAL SKETCH 135 IV

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LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1 Intercorrelations of Pretest Scores on Four FDS Subscales for All Participants 61 2 Post Hoc Tests of Differences between Pretest and Posttest Mean Scores on Differentiation and Integration Indices 61 3 Pretest Intercorrelations between Indices of Differentiation and Integration 64 4 Canonical Correlation Analyses of Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores for All Participants 66 5 Manova Summary Table for Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores , . . 67 6 Analysis of Variance of Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores for Sex Differences 68 7 Canonical Correlation Analyses of Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores for Females and for Males 70 8 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High Versus Low FIC and Chi-square Scores on Death Orientation Scores 72 9 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High Versus Low FIC and Ordination Scores on Death Orientation Scores 73 10 Multiple Regressions of Death Threat Scores on Selected Optimal Functioning Variables. ... 74 11 Anovas for Treatment Differences in Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores , . . , . 77

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T able Page 12 Mean Scores for Death Threat, Ordination, and Chi-square by Treatment Conditions for Pretest and Posttest 78 13 Manova Summary Table for Posttest Death Orientation Scores 79 14 Anovas for Sex Differences in Posttest Death Orientation Scores 81 15 Anovas for Treatment Differences in Posttest Death Orientation Scores 82 16 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of Posttest Death Orientation Scores with Pretest Death Threat Scores as Covariate 83 17 Manova Summary Table for Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores 85 18 Anovas for Treatment Effects on Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores ... , 86 19 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores with Pretest Ordination and Chi-square Scores as Covariates 88 20 Canonical Correlation Analysis between Pretest Death Orientation Scores and Religious Beliefs/Practices. , . 90 21 Multiple Regression of Pretest Death Threat Scores on Religious Beliefs/Practices Variables 92 22 Canonical Correlation Analyses for Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores with WTI Scores , . 95 vi

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy REDUCTION IN DEATH THREAT AS A BASIS FOR OPTIf^IAL FUNCTIONING: THE TEST OF A CENTRAL EXISTENTIAL HYPOTHESIS By Michael A. Rigdon August 1982 Chairman: Franz R. Epting Major Department: Psychology Based on a review of previous research, a significant relationship was predicted between death orientation and optimal functioning, both conceptualized in multidimensional terms. Hypotheses are drawn from existential philosophy and from personal construct psychology to suggest that resolving the issue of personal mortality enables a person to live a more intense, meaningful life. In operational terms, optimal functioning depends on one's positive orientation toward death. Selected components of death education courses, therefore, were predicted to result in more positive death orientation and more optimal functioning. Participants in the study were 96 undergraduate psychology students. In the first experimental session, they completed four questionnaires and participated in the experimental condition to which each group was randomly assigned: completing Vll

PAGE 8

an obit-uary /biography, writing a farewell letter, or, for the control group, participating in a stress management experience. The questionnaires included a personal data questionnaire, a slightly modified form of the Threat Index (TI) , the Purpose ir Life Test (PIL) , and the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FI The TI was modified for scoring two differentiation and two integration indices. Using 13-point scales, participants ratec self , my own death , and 10 death-related elements on 30 dimensions related to death. For the second session, 95 participani returned to complete again the final three questionnaires liste above . The results indicated a significant relationship between positive death orientation and the optimal functioning variable with some differences in the pattern of this relationship for males and for females. Multivariate analyses of variance fail( to support the impact of the death-related experiences on deat] orientation or optimal functioning, perhaps because the select* experiences were not strong enough to affect either complex, stable attitudes toward death or a person's overall optimal functioning level. Results of post hoc analyses revealed significantly more negative death orientation for females, as well as the signifi cant association of strong religious beliefs and practices wit' positive death orientation. Discussion focused on strengths and limitations of the investigation and presented implications for psychotherapy and for research in the areas of death orien tation and optimal functioning. vixi

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION We Americans are an optimistic sort. We have long believed that any problem can be solved with a lot of hard work, the right technology, and a bit of luck. Our technology seems helpless in the face of death, however, which may be one reason our society has tended to deny the reality of death (Weisman, 1972) . American psychologists similarly have focused primarily on positive experiences in their investigations of optimal functioning — the behavior and experience of those who are prime examples of the actualization of human potential. Maslow (1968), for instance, acknowledged that he "made no effort to explore . . . what may be called the 'nadir experience,' e.g., the (to some) painful and crushing insights into the inevitability of aging and death ..." (p. 84). Lester (1971a) , on the other hand, presented evidence that suggested the death denial of earlier times has given way to more frequent thoughts of death. In 1970, students completed the identical death attitude questionnaire completed by students at the same college in 1935. Compared to the 1935 students, contemporary students reported being more preoccupied with and concerned about death. This widespread concern about the imminence of death may be responsible

PAGE 10

for the movement presently spreading in Europe and the United States to freeze the number of nuclear weapons. Scholars also began to explore psychological and sociological aspects of the phenomena of death and dying, as is evident from Pearson's (1969) 100-page annotated bibliography, Santera's (1980, 1981) 17-page bibliography of dissertations centered on death and dying topics in the 1970 's, and two volumes of annotated death education references by Wass and her colleagu (Wass, Corr, Pacholski, & Sanders, 19 80; VJass, Corr, & Pacholi with Forfar, in press) . Although the issue of the relationsh bebween death attitudes and optimal functioning has been investigated occasionally, the study presented here was designe to build a comprehensive framework for understanding death attitudes, optimal functioning, and their interrelationship in order to provide some answer to Murphy's (1959) question:/ "Under what conditions can the facing of death be constructed in mental health terms?" (p. 319) . The aim of this introduction is first to elaborate the conceptualization and operationalization of death orientation second to review five models of optimal functioning, third to review the currently available data regarding the relationshi betv/een death attitudes and aspects of healthy functioning, fourth to present an existential approach to the relationship between healthy functioning and one's attitude about death, fifth to present a personal construct view of the same issue, and finally to state the rationale for the present study and the hypotheses to be investigated.

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Death Orientation The 1970 's saw a sudden explosion of research on death orientation, so much so that two successful journals are now in existence: Death Education and Omega . In studies reported in these journals, death orientation has been conceptualized in a variety of ways and assessed by means of a variety of instruments. This section will describe these conceptualizations and instruments used in research on death orientation. Research on death orientation is concerned generally with a person's beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors regarding the concept of personal death or the death of others. Investigators initially focused on several negative aspects of death orientation which were loosely termed death anxiety, fear of death, or concern about death. With the exception of an occasional use of physiological measures, such as galvanic skin response and projective instruments such as the Thematic Apperception Test to assess the level of death anxiety or fear (Kurlychek, 1978a) , research in this area involved the development of self-report measures, such as Templer's (1970) Death Anxiety Scale (DAS), Boyar ' s (1964) Fear of Death Scale, Lester's (1967a) Fear of Death Scale (FDS) , and Dickstein's (1972) Death Concern Scale (DCS). More recently, Ray and Najman (1974) developed a self-report measure designated to assess death acceptance, conceptualizing death orientation in positive rather than negative terms.

PAGE 12

The five self-report measures just described represent attempts to operationalize death orientation in unidimensiona terms. For some time, however, thanatologists have recognize that death orientation is a complex phenomenon, requiring measures able to tap several aspects of a person's approach to death. The complexity and multidimensionality of death orientation have been explored in terms of one's orientation toward death at several levels of awareness and in terras of one's orientation toward several aspects of death itself. Let us examine these two ways of viewing the multidimensionality of death orientation. Feifel and his colleagues (Feifel & Branscomb, 1973; Feifel, Freilich, & Hermann, 1973; Feifel & Hermann, 1973; Feifel & Jones, 1968) were the first to focus attention on the levels of awareness in relation to death orientation. They developed a set of measures designed to assess fear of death not only at the conscious level of awareness, but also at a level below awareness (unconscious level) and at a midlevel of awareness (fantasy level) . Analysis of the results of this set of measures with a variety of populations has convinced Feifel of a consistent pattern of conscious denial of death fear and high fear of death at the below-awareness level, with frequently ambiguous responses at the fantasy level. This pattern would seem to support Feifel 's insistenc on assessing death fear at several levels. A person might deny any awareness of being afraid of death, but a comparatively high level of unconscious death fear might be essentia

PAGE 13

to an accurate assessment of the same person's death orientation. Furthermore, the death orientation of two individuals may be deceptively similar if one simply examines their relatively high unconscious fear of death. Their death orientation m.ay differ in complex ways, however, if one of the two individuals is consciously aware of high death fear and is, perhaps, in the process of coming to terms with this fear, while the second individual denies any awareness of death fear as a problematic issue in life. The ability of Feifel's set of measures accurately to assess conscious, mid-level, and unconscious fear of death would open up such questions for systematic study. The little evidence available to date suggests that Feifel's measures do not, in fact, assess three levels of death fear. A factor analysis (Rigdon, in press) of the scores of 60 high school and college students on Feifel's measures indicated that the conscious and fantasy measures tap what might be called most accurately "conscious fear of death," while scores on the other five measures split into two or three factors. These five measures do not seem to tap a unitary unconscious fear of death. And, until research indicates the correlates of the various factors, it is unclear precisely what aspects of death orientation are being assessed by these seemingly heterogeneous measures. Feifel was a pioneer in devising a method for assessing the multidimensional meaning of death, but his work has not yet resulted in a satisfactory set of death orientation measures.

PAGE 14

Gardner Murphy (1959) suggested an alternative line of assessing the complexity of death orientation in relation to a variety of aspects of death. He noted that a person could develop attitudes toward at least seven aspects of death. Death could be feared not only as the natural end and as the loss of consciousness and mastery, but also because of the associated fears of loneliness, of personal failure, and of what might happen to one's dependents. Vernon (1970) and Kastenbaum and Aisenberg (1972) similarly emphasized the importance of examining one's response to a variety of features of death. In addition to fear associated with aspects of the death and dying of others, they explored the basic fear of personal death as extinction, as the end of personal experience, and as separation from loved ones, as well as the fear of pain and indignity during the process of dying, and the fear of the possible consequences of death such as personal punishment and what might happen to the people and projects one is responsible for. Researchers have used three approaches to tackle the issue of the multidimensionality of death orientation. The first approach to be examined is the determination of relevant aspects of death by experts during the process of test construction. At least two attempts have been made to develop measures that include subscales for more than one aspect of the concept and experience of death. Collett and Lester (1969) developed a reliable Fear of Death Scale (FDS) with four subscales to assess fear of one's own death or

PAGE 15

dying and fear of the death or dying of others. Hooper and Spilka (1970) constructed nine 20-itein scales for assessing the seven aspects of death fear indicated by Murphy, as well as the positive attitudes of death as an afterlife of reward and death as an expression of courage. The researchers who developed these more complex measures of death orientation agreed with Murphy, Vernon, and Kastenbaum and Aisenberg that one simple score could not estimate adequately a person's beliefs, feelings, and behaviors with respect to such a complex event as death. Rather than developing a questionnaire to assess predetermined aspects of death orientation, several investigators used a factor analytic approach to determine empirically what aspects of death orientation emerge from a set of self-report items. This represents a second approach to the multidimensionality of death orientation. A factor analysis of Dickstein's DCS (Klug & Boss, 1976), for instance, revealed not the expected single death concern factor, but two factors for the conscious contemplation of death and the negative evaluation of death. Using factor analysis, Nelson and Nelson (1975) developed scales they identified as death fear, death avoidance, death denial, and reluctance to interact with the dying. Victor (1981) constructed a questionnaire with factors for existential death concern and helplessness of dying concern, Durlak and Kass (1981) used principal components analysis to determine what aspects of death orientation actually are assessed by a set of previously developed scales that are

PAGE 16

8 frequently used in death orientation research. Their analysis determined the overlap between eight existing scales. Four of the instruments had single scores: the Threat Index (Rigdon, Epting, Neimeyer, & Krieger, 1979) , Templer ' s DAS, Ray and Najman's Death Acceptance Scale, and Lester's FDS. Three of the instruments had multiple scores, as previously described: the Collett-Lester FDS, Nelson and Nelson's death anxiety measure, and Dickstein's DCS. The final scales involved the rating of the concepts of death and being in pain on semantic differential dimensions. Two of the five factors in Durlak and Kass' analysis could be described as a general negative response to personal death and preoccupation with thoughts about death. A reanalysis of Durlak and Kass' data (Rigdon & Epting, 1981) indicated that two of the other factors identified as reluctance to interact with the dying and reaction to the reminder of death may be summarized better as a third factor of avoidance of the dying and of death reminders, while Durlak and Kass' fifth factor, negative reaction to pain, should be ignored as trivial. Although the analysis by Durlak and Kass and that by Rigdon and Epting produced results that differed in some important respects, both analyses indicated the importance of selecting more than one measure to assess various aspects of a person's attitudes and concepts about death. The Threat Index (TI) (Krieger, Epting, & Leitner, 1974) is an instrument that represents a third way of assessing

PAGE 17

death oriontation with respect to several aspects of death. Unlike the Collett-Lester FDS , however, the relevant aspects of death are not predetermined when the test is constructed. Unlike Durlak and Kass' approach to the multidimensionality of death orientation, the relevant components of death attitudes are not determined by a process of comparing responses in a large sample of people. The TI, derived from personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955) , begins with a person generating a set of dichotomous meaning dimensions (personal constructs) that are important to the person's view of death (e.g., violent-peaceful or meaningful-useless). The person next places the elements of self and my own death on each construct. The more dimensions on which the self and death are "split" (i.e., placed on opposite poles), the more the person is taken to be threatened by death, in that more change would be necessary for self and death to be compatible Thus, the TI assesses death orientation with respect to those features of death that are most salient for each person. Yet the TI provides in the number of splits a single score which may be taken as a measure of one's level of threat or, judging by the TI's high loading on Durlak and Kass' first component, one's overall negative response to death. The versatility of the TI is apparent in that one can use the number of splits as a simple index of threat and, at the same time, capitalize on the idiosyncratic multidimensionality of the TI by analyzing into principal components a person's ratings of self, death, and other death-related

PAGE 18

10 events on the death-related personal constructs. Warren (1982) has indicated the usefulness of the principal components analysis in conjunction with the TI. The split score can provide an estimate of the individual's level of threat, while the principal components analysis can provide an indication of the possible directions in which the person might move in an attempt to reduce the threat of death and make self and death more compatible. In conclusion, the three approaches to the multidimensional conceptualization and assessment of death orientation indicate the usefulness of assessing predetermined aspects of death attitudes (e.g., fear of one's ovjn death and fear of the death of others) and the usefulness of having several measures to tap the relatively independent components of death as determined by Durlak and Kass' analysis. The flexibility of the TI suggests that one might, at the same time, examine the idiosyncratic multidiraensionality of an individual's stance with respect to death. A combination of the three approaches to multidimensionality would seem to be most advantageous for capturing death orientation with some accuracy. Optimal Functioning Upon meeting a psychologist, people often remark, "I had better be careful what I say." As if the psychologist V70uld catch them in a "Freudian slip" or some indication of

PAGE 19

11 psychological abnormality. Psychologists' apparent reputation of being on the lookout for the abnormal may be due in part to psychology's focus on the assessment, treatment, and theoretical understanding of mental illness. Within' this framev7ork, mental health would be simply the opposite of mental illness and would be thought of as the absence of any noticeable indications of psychological disorders. Jahoda (1958) extended the concept of mental health to include various positive features of behavior and experience, such as self-expressiveness, open-mindedness, the ability to deal effectively with daily stress, realistic self-awareness about one's strengths and weaknesses, and genuine concern for others and the ability to establish meaningful relationships . Other investigators developed alternative models to circumvent the illness-health dichotomy and to present healthy functioning in a positive framework on its own terms. Just as there would seem to be important physiological differences between a normally healthy (i.e., "unsick") person and a champion athlete, so there may be important differences between a mentally healthy person who has escaped serious psychological disorders and a person who is an exceptional example of the possibilities of human growth and development. Jung (1968) focused on a life-long process he termed individuation . Allport (1961) developed the concepts of propriate functioning and mature personali ty. Jourard (1968) emphasized selfdisclosure. Rogers (1961) developed his notion of the fully

PAGE 20

12 functioning person. These approaches share a focus on optimal functioning, a term which can be used to describe the level of growth attained by exceptional people or the experience and performance level of most people at those exceptional moments when we are "at our best." Investigators in this area of psychology are interested in what a person can become when h\iman potentials are realized. The remainder of this section will examine briefly five models of optimal functioning and several methods for assessing this phenomenon Maslow's Model of the Self-Actualizing Person Maslow (1968) , in his study of exemplars of what he termed full humanness , noticed that, in the process of growth certain basic needs were fulfilled first to maintain minimal functioningThese are physiological needs, as well as security needs and a person's need to be loved and respected. Maslow called these deficiency needs because a person pursues objectives that will fill the void which comprises each need. A second set of needs relates to a person's full development. These are aesthetic needs and the need to self-actualize — to realize one's potential more completely. Unlike the deficien needs, a person engages in the self-expressiveness of selfactualization or in the pursuit of truth and beauty for the sheer joy of the pursuit. The experience itself is the rewar not the reduction of some deficit. Maslow referred to this a meta-motivation, and he used the term peak experiences for those joyful moments in which one surpasses deficit motivatio

PAGE 21

13 to actualize self or to attain truth and beauty. Among other characteristics, Maslow described the exceptional people he studied as having 1. clear, efficient perceptions of reality, 2. openness to experience, 3. spontaneity and selfexpressiveness, 4. creativity, 5. self-acceptance, and 6. a sense of autonomy and independence. In order to assess the level to which people have developed the characteristics presented by flaslow and other investigators of optimal functioning, Shostrom (19 62) developed the Personality Orientation Inventory (POI) . This 150-item self-report questionnaire has two major scales for time competence and inner support, as well as 10 overlapping minor scales for characteristics such as spontaneity, selfacceptance, and capacity for intimacy. Some of the hundreds of POI studies have provided moderate validity support in its ability to discriminate clinical populations from more normal, mentally healthy groups and in the predicted correlations of some POI subscales with other characteristics related to self-actualization. On the other hand, the POI has been criticized on several grounds (Amerikaner, 1978; Oakland, Freed, Lovekin, Davis, & Camilleri, 1978). First of all, the test construction has been questioned because some items are not clearly based on Maslow' s theory or any other. Other items are vaguely worded. Many items are scored on one of the major scales and two of the minor scales, Secondly, test-retest reliability coefficients for the subscales are lower than one m.ight wish, v/ith a median of .59

PAGE 22

14 in one study (Ilardi & May, 1968) , Third, the POI profiles of a large number of people fall within the self-actualized range, although Maslow believed less than 1 percent of the population could be called self-actualized. Finally, there is evidence (Braun & LaFaro, 1969) that students can artificially raise their POI scores if they are taught selfactualization concepts and terminology. Their ability to give the impression of being self-actualized raises the question of whether psychotherapy may sometimes result in higher POI scores simply by giving clients information about self-actualization rather than by producing it. The POI is an interesting first attempt to operationalize the complex notion of self-actualization, but some basic re-construction needs to correct the problems just outlined to produce a psychometrically adequate instrument. Landsman's Beautiful and Noble Person Rather than studying exceptional individuals, Landsman (1974; Jourard & Landsman, 1980) studied exceptional experiences to develop his model of optimal functioning. His investigation of positive personal and interpersonal experience remembered by a variety of people and of tragic experiences which were later viewed as positive led him to propose three general stages in the development of the basically normal person into a beautiful and noble person . These stages are 1. the self-loving, self-expressive passionate self, 2. the environment-loving self who appreciates the beauty of the

PAGE 23

15 physical world and is concerned with its preservation, and 3. the compassionate self involved with and caring for other people. Rather than developing a measure of these stages. Landsman has concentrated on ways in which prosocial, compassionate behavior develops, especially in children. Frankl's Model of a Meaningful Life Following his concentration camp experiences during World War II, Frankl (19 63) presented a model of optimal functioning which emphasized a person's ability to create a meaningful, purposeful life. Experiences such as the successful achievement of a goal, the sense of being one with nature or some other valued object, and interpersonal intimacy promote the discovery of meaning and purpose. But Frankl focused on suffering as a special opportunity for the person to create meaning. Even under extremely desperate circumstances, each person remains free to determine the attitude with which to approach the situation. According to Frankl, the discovery of this freedom forms the basis of a meaningful life. Crumbaugh and Maholick (1969) designed a 20-item Purpose in Life Test (PIL) to assess the extent to which a person has effectively created a meaningful, purposeful life. Initial results supported the reliability of the PIL and indicated, for example, that it does distinguish between depressed individuals and those who report a sense of well-being. High PIL scores are also associated with positive self-concept and self esteem (Reker, 1977) . Several studies have investigated

PAGE 24

16 the relationship between the PIL and variables with which one could predict an association in light of Frankl's theory. Sharpe and Viney (1973) analyzed college students' written descriptions of their world view, finding that the world views of the students with low PIL scores were judged negative, lacking in purpose, and lacking in transcendent goals. Students with positive, purposeful world views and transcenent goals had high PIL scores. Similarly, persons with high Purpose in Life scores endorsed values such as responsibility and salvation, but de-valued pleasure (Crandall & Rasmussen, 1975; Sinvraons, 1980) . They seemed to have learned that, as Frankl maintained, happiness or pleasure are achieved indirectly by striving for personal values which directly make life meaningful. The results of these studies support the contention that the PIL is a good measure of meaning and purpose in life, as conceptualized by Frankl, although a significant relationship with social desirability (r = .59) indicates that PIL scores may be influenced by the desire to give a good impression. A group of subjects did not, however, raise their PIL scores after being told their first scores were unacceptably low (Snavely, cited in Crumbaugh & Maholick, 1969). Furthermore, Durlak (1972, 1978) has failed to find a significant correlation between PIL scores and social desirability in three samples (r = .00, .01, -.10, respectively)

PAGE 25

17 Coan's Mcdel of the Optimal Personality Coan (1974, 1977) has developed an empirical model of optimal functioning, based in part on a factor analysis of college students' responses to a variety of questionnaires designed to assess characteristics of the optimal personality . Rather than indicating one general trait of optimal functioning, Coan's analysis resulted in 19 factors, which he encapsulated in five basic features of efficiency, creativity and openness to new experiences, harmony with self, the ability to relate to others, and the ability to transcend self in unity with a larger whole. Amerikaner (1978) criticized the lack of validity support for Coan's questionnaires. He also observed that a general optimal functioning factor might be found in a sample of optimally functioning individuals. Coan's failure to find a general trait may reflect on the college sample rather than on the nature of optimal functioning. On the other hand, his approach could represent eventually the most comprehensive, empirical model for the investigation and understanding of optimal functioning. Kelly's Model of Optimal Functioning Like the other investigators briefly reviewed, Kelly (1955, 1980) developed his own unique approach to optimal functioning, an approach elaborated by Epting and Amerikaner (19 80; see also Epting & Suchman, in press) . Kelly was concerned with the process according to which people change their personally constructed meaning units (personal constructs)

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18 and thus their overall construct system in order more effectively to interpret a complex, ever-changing world. According to Kelly, growthful change occurs through the five-stage experience cycle. Most of us, unfortunately, tend to get stuck at one stage or another, or we try to skip one of them. Optimal functioning is characteristic of people who generally complete the experience cycle. And most of us function optimally at those exceptional moments when our experience cycle is complete. The first step is active anticipation . When an acquaintance asks to borrow your car, do you anticipate that she is trustworthy and dependable or not? The second stage is involvement : If you expect your acquaintance is dependable, what are the implications of this expectation? Will she also drive carefully? Will she clean the car before she returns it? How important is it that you view her as dependable? In the next step, encounter , you act as if your acquaintance is dependable: You loan her your car and are vulnerable and open to the results. The results of the encounter will either confirm and validate your anticipation or not (step 4) . The invalidation of having your car returned witli a large dent in the left fender would require some activity at stage 5, constructive revision , where you might reconstrue your acquaintance as being accident-prone or a problem drinker. Anticipation is essential to this entire process, but growth cannot occur without taking some action in terms of what one anticipates .

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19 Optimal functioning can be understood in construct terms also relative to the appropriate, effective completion of two other cycles which Kelly related to creativity and activity, respectively. The creativity cycle refers to the process by which a person alternately loosens and tightens the boundaries of constructs in order to invent new construct dimensions to interpret events. The activity cycle (or C-P-C cycle) is similar to the experience cycle, but reflects the special experience of making decisions. A full activity cycle has three stages: 1. a circumspect consideration of a variety of constructs which might describe the issues in this situation, 2. a preemptive selection of a single issue as most salient and crucial (e.g., exercise is good for my health; sitting to watch another football game is not) , and 3. the choice of one of the alternatives to carry into action. No method has been developed, unfortunately, to assess directly and quantitatively the extent to which the three cycles just described are fully and efficiently operating in a person's life. An alternative approach to optimal functioning within the personal construct framework relates to the extent to which the person is engaged in the process of developing a more complex construct system for effectively anticipating life events. Following Werner's (1957) orthogenetic principle of cognitive development, personal construct theorists (Adams-Webber, 1979; Crockett, 1965; Crum, 1978) have viewed the development of complexity as a two-fold process of

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20 differentiation and hierarchical integration. Differentiation is the process of creating new construct dimensions with which to interpret one's experience. This implies the progressive elaboration of construct subsystems with which to make sense of a variety of events. Interpersonal experience, career events, and the realm of death might each have an associated construct subsystem. Integration, on the other hand, refers to the process of drawing out the implications between constructs so that the various constructs and subsystems fit together in a unified framework. There is a relationship between the two-fold process of complexity and the creativity and activity cycles described above. The level of differentiation would be an index of the efficiency of the creativity cycle for generating constructs in response to new experiences, while the level of integration v/ould indirectly indicate the efficiency with which a person could sort through a variety of constructs to preemptively select one that best represents the issue on which to make a choice for action. This preemptive selection would be more efficient in an integrated network with its clear lines of implication. Fransella and Bannister (1977) and Adams-V7ebber (1979) described and evaluated about 20 indices to use reptest ratings of elements in terms of a set of personal constructs for assessing complexity or one of its aspects. The results provide some support for differentiation and integration indices. Smith and Leach (1972), for instance, found a relationship

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21 between scores on their hierarchical organization measure and abstractness as assessed by Harvey's (1966) This I Believe Test, designed to assess cognitive development from a child's focus on the concrete to the mature adult's ability to deal with the world in a more abstract way. More integrated subjects were also higher in abstractness. Using Adams-Webber's (1969) differentiation index, Olson and Partington (1977) found that highly differentiated subjects, as a result of having a variety of their own personal perspectives, were more able to take the perspective of others when re-telling a story from the viewpoint of different characters. Relative to optimal functioning, Thomas and Seeman (1971) reported that individuals identified by other group members as matching Jahoda's (1958) characteristics of mental health were more differentiated in their interpersonal constructs, in that they generated a greater number of constructs to describe people. Wexler (1974) used the POX to identify optimally functioning members in a group, whose descriptions of emotional experience were judged more differentiated and integrated than the descriptions of less optimally functioning group members. Besides providing some support for the validity of the differentiation and integration indices, the research to date also supports the optimal functioning of more differentiated and integrated subjects. Landfield (1971) and his colleagues (Landfield & Barr , 1975; Leitner, Landfield, & Barr, 1976; Landfield & Schmittdiel, 1981) recently developed a new procedure to operationalize

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22 differentiation, and two to operationalize integration. The differentiation index is called FIC, for Functionally Independent Constructions (the name is a definition of differentiation) , and represents the degree to which the person applies constructs in a similar way to the elements. If everyone who is friendly is also warm, the two constructs are functionally equivalent. If there is little overlap, so that knowing a woman is friendly does not help the person decide whether or not she is also emotionally stable, for instance, then the two constructs are functionally independent. A person who uses constructs in a nonoverlapping, independent manner is considered more differentiated than a person with more overlapping constructions. Landfield operationalized integration in two ways. Both ordination and the chi-square statistic measure the extent to which a person uses the same rating point to describe various people on a construct dimension or, on the other hand, spreads the descriptions across all the points on the scale. The rationale for these two indices is that the process of making fine discriminations along a construct dimension would seem to require the use of superordinate constructs. A person with a poorly integrated interpersonal system, for example, might tend to view Barb, Bill, and Wayne as equally friendly, whereas a more integrated person might view Barb as friendlier than Bill because she is also affectionate, but less friendly than Wayne, v7ho is not only affectionate, but also trustworthy. The fine discriminations along the friendly-unfriendly dimension

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23 are made possible because of the Implications of the superordlnate constructs af fectionate-not affectionate and trustworthy-untrustworthy. Crum (1978) demonstrated the usefulness of conceptualizing complexity in terms of the two processes of differentiation and integration, especially as operationalized by FIC and ordination. Although ordination was the best predictor of performance in his study, FIC scores clarified the relationship between ordination and such variables as intuitive reasoning and performance on an embedded figures task. Wilkins (1978) found that subjects who v;ere high in both FIC and ordination were less likely than other subjects to change their first impression about a person after being presented conflicting information. As predicted, these subjects were better able to see at the same time more than one aspect of other people. Using his FIC, ordination, and chisquare indices, Landfield (1979; Landfield & Schmittdiel, 1981) found that highly integrated group members (according to their ordination and chi-square scores) could more easily predict the way that other group members use their constructs Not only are they able to understand others, but others in the gx-oup are also able to understand those who are more integrated. The group had a hard time predicting the more differentiated members, especially if they were also low in integration. Highly differentiated, poorly integrated people are confusing to others and hard to understand, and they do not understand others very effectively.

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24 While these results support the validity of FIC, ordination, and chi-square as indices of differentiation and integration, Amerikaner ' s (1979) investigation failed to find a relationship between either differentiation (assessed by FIC) or integration (assessed by ordination) and optimal functioning. Although optimally functioning persons have been more differentiated and integrated in several studies described earlier, this association has not resulted from research using FIC and ordination. Amerikaner indicated that his failure to find support for this relationship may be due either to his determination of the differentiation and integration scores from provided constructs rather than the more usual elicited constructs or to the lack of truly extreme groups . Maslow, Landsman, Frankl, Coan, and Kelly developed models of optimal functioning that differ in many ways in the conceptualization and assessment of this phenomenon. Amerikaner (1979) suggested a comparison of optimal functioning models in terms of three aspects: process, structure, and content. Let us explore how these three aspects can help summarize models of optimal functioning, particularly the five approaches described here. The process aspects relate to how the person changes and progresses toward the goal of optimal functioning. Optimal functioning theories generally focus attention on this aspect. Jung, for example, described the life-long process by which the person becomes more individuated, and Rogers emphasized

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25 the internal organismic valuing process which the person gradually learns to trust on the way to full functioning. Maslow frequently stressed the process of actualizing oneself. Self-actualization is an end-state toward which we progress without ever fully attaining it. Frankl ' s approach points to the key process of creating personal meaning. The personal construct model describes the process by which a person completes the cycles of experience, creativity, and activity. The complementary processes of differentiation and integration are also important for the development of a richly varied personality v/hich operates as a unified whole. '^^^ structural aspects of the optimally functioning person refer less to the person's flexibility and more to the arrangement of the personality components in a hierarchical order, with some more important than others. Maslow, for example, spoke of a need hierarchy, with the basic deficiency needs eventually subordinated to the meta-needs of selfactualization and aesthetic experience. The compassionate self in Landsman's model is the highest stage in the hierarchy of becoming the beautiful and noble person. Kelly frequently referred to a person's core constructs— those upon which one establishes and maintains self-identity. Integration refers to the extent to which the implications of these superordinate core constructs for the more incidental subordinate constructs have been elaborated. The connections between the core and incidental constructs ensure the system's smooth, coordinated operation.

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26 In Kelly's model, the constructs could be called the content — the components which comprise the person's system. The content aspect is important in several optimal functioning models. Maslow, Coan, and Landsman, for instance, investigated traits they considered constitutive of the optimal functioning person. The POI was designed to measure such optimal functioning qualities. And the PIL, designed to tap into the person's process of creating a meaningful life, directly measures the content of a person's beliefs about the relative meaningfulness of a number of aspects of life. A comprehensive approach to optimal functioning might profitably attempt assessment in all three aspects of process, structure, and content. Empirical Studies on the Correlation of Death Attitudes and Psychological Health Proceeding from a variety of theoretical perspectives, a considerable number of researchers have searched for a relationship between attitudes toward death and a variety of personality characteristics. Reasoning that a healthy approach to life goes hand-in-hand with a positive, accepting orientation toward death, these researchers have attempted to associate positive death orientation (low death anxiety or fear, for instance) with a positive life orientation or, at least, with the absence of negative life orientation. After reviewing the evidence regarding death orientation and both

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27 specific and general indicators of healthy functioning, this section will conclude with an examination of the data regarding the association betv;een death orientation and aspects of inadequate, maladaptive behavior. First of all, the expectation generally has been that those who accept death will also be living a more meaningful life, with higher self-esteem and a greater sense of competence than those who are anxious, fearful, or threatened by death. Individuals who have a positive death orientation have been predicted also to be lower in certain indicators of inadequate functioning, such as general anxiety and scores on MMPI scales, while those with a negative death orientation were expected to be functioning less adequately, i.e., to be more anxious and to score higher on the I-IMPI scales. Contrary to this general line of thought, Diggory (1966) and his colleague (Diggory & Rothman, 1961) developed a rationale for a rival hypothesis. They reasoned that people who value and esteem themselves will have "more to lose" at death and, therefore, be more fearful of death than people with low self-esteem. Accordingly, Diggory predicted that persons who pride themselves on their accomplishments and view life as a time for achieving goals will have a special difficulty facing death, which represents, after all, the end of goaldirected behavior and which "will permanently frustrate us by removing the possibility of any purposive activity" (p. 415). In support of their hypothesis, Diggory and Rothman presented the results of a survey indicating that people

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28 generally rank "the end of the opportunity to achieve goals" high on their list of why death is a frightening event. This result, while interesting, does not bear directly on their hypothesis. Three studies that have more directly tested Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis produced surprising results. Nogas, Schweitzer, and Grumet (1974) failed to find a positive correlation between neesd for achievement and death anxiety scores in their sample of 80 female college students (r = -.13, £ > .05). Their evidence did not support Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis. Secondly, Alcorn (1977) found a significant negative association between DAS scores and selfesteem. People who value self are not more anxious about death because of what they have to lose. The evidence indicates that they have a more relaxed, accepting attitude than those who have a less adequate level of self-esteem. Alcorn's test of Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis resulted in support for the competing notion of the positive relationship between healthy life and death orientations. A third study (Aronow, Rauchway, Peller, & DeVito, 1980) similarly reported significant negative correlations between death anxiety and sense of v/ell-being (-.28) and the similarity between self and ideal-self ratings (-.19). Individuals who value self tend to have lov/er death anxiety, contrary to Diggory and Rothman's expectation. Further research has produced rather consistent evidence for the association between positive death orientation and specific aspects of healthy functioning, such as meaning in

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29 life, sense of competence, and self-esteem. For high school students, college students, and the elderly, Durlak (1972, 1973, 1978), Blazer (1973), Sullivan (1977), and Bolt (1978) reported consistent evidence that individuals who are living a meaningful, purposeful life as assessed by the Purpose of Life Test (PIL) tend to be less afraid and less anxious about death. It should be noted, however, that these correlations might be inflated by the presence on the PIL of two items that relate specifically to one's orientation toward death. Furthermore, Duke (1978) was unable to find support for a relationship between the PIL scores of dying patients in a private, religious-affiliated hospital and the staff's rating of the patients' acceptance of death. People who have a good sense of their own competence are less fearful and anxious about death, whether sense of competence is assessed by a structured interview (Farley, 1971) or by several subscales of the California Personality Inventory (Nogas et al., 1974). In other words, people who feel capable of coping with their own death also tend to feel capable of coping with life. Moses (1973) likewise found a significant relationship between high self-esteem and low fear of death, using Boyar ' s (1964) Fear of Death Scale, a result not replicated, however, by Casciani (1979), who used several scales to assess death orientation. Lester and Collett (1970) and Neimeyer and Chapman (1980) both found support for a similar notion that individuals who are rather satisfied with the progress of their life project (little

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30 discrepancy between their views of self and ideal self) are able to face death with a more accepting, less fearful orientation than are those who are less satisfied with who they are and see the need for many changes (large discrepancy between their views of self and ideal self) . Several studies have examined the relationship between death orientation and a general index of healthy functioning — Shostrom's (1952) Personality Orientation Inventory (POI) to assess self-actualization. On the one hand, Wesch (1971) and Wexler (1978) reported that individuals with less death fear, anxiety, and threat had significantly higher scores on several of the POI subscales. In Pollak's (1979) sample of graduate students, low DAS scores were associated with high scores on the POI scale for time competence (r = -.25). The correlations with the other major scale and the 10 minor subscales, however, were not significant. In summary, no evidence has supported Diggory and Rothman's hypothesis that individuals with high self-esteem and high need for achievement have more to lose by death and will be more apprehensive about death. The data indicate, instead, a consistent, moderate association of positive death orientation with specific features of optimal functioning, such as meaning in life, sense of competence, and high self-esteem. And, although positive death orientation has been related to one or another aspect of self-actualization as assessed by the POI, the pattern of this relationship has not been consistent. The overall evidence supports a moderate, positive

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31 relationship between positive death orientation and various aspects of optimal functioning. The relationship between death orientation and the presence or absence of certain aspects of inadequate functioning, including neurotic tendencies and general anxiety, has also been explored. Let us now review the evidence from these investigations. Almost 50 years ago, Schilder (1936) interviewed 31 imprisoned murderers to determine their attitudes about death. Psychopathic and psychotic killers reported high fear of death and preoccupation with thoughts of death as punishment, whereas killers with no particular psychopathic trends were less afraid of death and viewed death as remote. Lester {1967b) and Pollak (1979) reviewed more recent studies v/hich attempted to extend Schilder 's finding to other indicators of inadequate functioning, including neurotic tendencies and high general anxiety. The evidence from these studies will be presented next. Tendencies toward Neurosis or Depression Several early studies on the relationship between death attitudes and unhealthy, inadequate functioning involved aged participants. According to Rhudick and Dibner (1961), high death concerns among the aged are related to so-called neurotic trends (high scores on the MMPI scales for hypochondriasis, depression, and hysteria) and to high scores on the Cornell Medical Index (CMI) of physical and psychiatric symptoms. Templer (1971) likewise found in normal elderly subjects a

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32 significant relationship of death anxiety to fMPI depression scores (r = .28) and to the psychiatric section of the CMI (r = .54). Jeffers, Nichols, and Eisdorfer (1961) found that elderly people with higher death fear more frequently reported feelings of depression and rejection. Maladjusted elderly people, especially those who are depressed, generally are more fearful and anxious regarding death. In young adults, Templer (1970) found that death anxiety is related to high MMPI depression scores and also to the MMPI scales for schizophrenia and psychasthenia. Like the elderly, college students who are more anxious and fearful concerning death also have more neurotic tendencies, with elevated scores on the neurosis scales of the Eysenck Personality Inventory (Templer, 1972) (r = .36) and of the Maudsley Personality Inventory (Moses, 1973). Templer and Ruff (1971) reported that mean scores on the Death Anxiety Scale (DAS) are generally higher for adult psychiatric patients than for normal adults. Feifel and Hermann (1973), on the other hand, found similar patterns in the death attitudes of neurotic and normal subjects. A study by Lester and Schumacher (1969) failed to find the predicted elevation in the level of death fear of schizophrenic patients compared to nonschizophrenics, perhaps because the nonschizophrenic comparison group was comprised of many depressed patients (Fast & Pawl, 1970). It would have been surprising if these depressed control subjects had reduced death fear scores in light of the previously cited indications that depression is linked with high death fear.

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33 To suminarize, in most empirical investigations, negative death attitudes such as high death fear or high death anxiety, have been associated, both in the aged and in younger adults, with negative indicators of physical and psychological health, particularly with the presence of depressed feelings and other neurotic behaviors. General Anxiety and Other Indicators of Maladjustment Research consistently indicates a positive association betv7een death anxiety (DAS scores) or death fear (scores on the Collett-Lester FDS) and general anxiety, as measured by a variety of standard scales (Dickstein, 1972; Farley, 1971; Handal, 1969; Handal & Rychlak, 1971; Lucas, 1974; Nogas et al., 1974; Templer, 1970, 1971, 1972). Researchers have also expected a relationship between death fear/anxiety and several other negative indicators of psychological health. The Repression-Sensitization Scale, for instance, identifies the extent to which a person is aware of and actively responds to arousing stimuli. The sensitized individuals are thought of as tending toward anxiety, and prove to have more negative attitudes toward death, whether these attitudes are assessed by the DAS (Handal & Rychlak, 1971; Tolor & Reznikoff , 1967) , DCS (Dickstein, 1972) , TI (Tobacyk & Eckstein, 1980) , or a combination of items from a number of instruments (Farley, 1971) . When presented with death-related material to read, however, sensitizers did not report more anxiety than repressors (Paris & Goodstein, 1966).

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34 Feldman and Hersen (1967) reported a significant relationship between conscious death fear and frequency of nightmares, a result not replicated by Lester (1968). Lester (1967a) did find that those individuals who had attempted suicide in a sample of adolescents were less afraid of death than their nonsuicidal counterparts, but found no relationship in a normal, adult population between one's attitudes regarding suicide and those regarding death (Lester, 1971b) . In summary, investigators have generally reported that people with higher death fear or death anxiety score higher, as well, on a variety of indices that may be thought of broadly as indicators of maladjustment. Let us now turn to several theories which try to account for the relationship between positive death orientation and positive life orientation. An Existential Hypothesis Personal death is an important topic in the writing of the existentialists. And, although there is variation in the amount of attention they give to death and in the precise manner in which death fits into their overall scheme, there is a fundamental similarity in the way in which they deal with the issue (Carse, 1980; Nagley, 1978; Olson, 1971) . As a group, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Sartre focused their energies on understanding and resolving the general malaise they observed in modern societies. Science and

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35 technology have contributed to a higher standard of living in which basic needs are satisfied. Rather than producing happiness, this situation has resulted in the continual craving for raore that is characteristic of the materialistic, consumer-oriented Western countries. Underneath the smiling surface, the existentialists perceived a yawning gulf of emptiness and boredom. What went wrong? After examining the existentialists' analysis of the root of this emptiness, we will explore their notion of the awareness of personal death and how this awareness is supposed to result in a more intense, meaningful life. The existentialist diagnosis is that people have lost track of their individuality and have been swallowed up in the attitudes and behavior of the herd. This happens in a variety of ways. For one thing, we easily fall into the trap of focusing on what we do rather than trying to discover who we are. Our conversation frequently betrays the importance vre give to the roles we play: "I am a counselor; what do you do? What is your major? VTliat do you teach? Are you married? What does your husband do?" Because of the complexity of modern life, people have come to believe that truly worthwhile goals are accomplished by team play, with everybody working together and contributing to the whole through their own small role. The problem is, according to the existentialists, we cannot follow group guidelines without losing the self-consciousness which makes us uniquely human. If I register for a course "because they say it is a good

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36 course," I am basing my behavior on something other than my own experience and my own intentionality . An alternative way of losing ourselves is to develop the belief that "I will be happy and alive as soon as . . . . " No matter how we finish that sentence, we betray an attitude of de-valuing our present experience. There seems to be little reason, therefore, to be intent on the present. And if we find a new "as soon as . . ." tomorrow, intentionality and human self-consciousness may never begin (Slote, 1978) . Small v/onder, thought the existentialists, that people experience an emptiness. People have lost their individuality and ceased to live in a specifically human mode by fading into the crowd or in some other way failing to be intent and self-aware in the present. The cause of the emptiness perceived by the existentialists seems to run to the very core of what it means to be human. What sort of solution can they offer? Each person, they believed, can re-discover the important aspects of human existence through an encounter with death, not death in general, but personal death, "my death." This encounter is an awareness of my essential, absolute limitation: my personal mortality, an awareness with intellectual, emotional, and behavioral implications (Choron, 1963) . According to existentialist thinking, bringing my future death into the present reveals the present for what it is: all that a person has. A person could turn away from this awareness. People do, after all, fade back into the crowd. They pretend to be making a contribution to some significant cause.

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37 or they continue to live "as soon as . . ."--any method to avoid the awareness of who they really are. On the other hand, a person who resolutely faces personal death learns that, while the escape routes preclude anxiety, they also preclude genuine human existence. For the person who accepts personal death and its implications for living a truly human existence, the present acquires an urgency and intensity because it is all the person has (Koestenbaum, 1971) . The individual who is aware of personal mortality will focus on the most important and meaningful possibilities of the moment and will be aware of personal freedom rather than being pressured by the opinions or behaviors of the group. To summarize, the existentialists believed that without the awareness of personal death, life remains artificial. A uniquely human mode of living is possible only for the individual who learns to face the necessity of personal mortality, Personal death, in a certain sense, does not threaten my existence. Instead, it is one of the essential features of my existence (Gray, 1967). An intense, free, vigorously human life is characteristic of the person with this view of personal death. To live life well, a person must face death. A Personal Construct View Like other humanistic psychologists, Kelly focuses his attention on the living, active person-in-process. At first

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38 glance, a personal construct view of optimal functioning seems to have less to do with death and more to do with completing the cycle of experience and with the process of developing a differentiated and integrated personal construct system with which to approach life. Kelly (1965) did, it is true, extend his theory to the phenomenon of suicidal behavior, proposing the intriguing notion that suicide may be thought of as a way of preventing further invalidation and the total collapse of a person's system for interpreting life. Rather than face a future of total chaos without a system which can accurately anticipate the on-rushing events of life (except the certainty of still further invalidation!), the person may opt to preserve the remnants of his/her system of meaning by suicide. Landfield (1976) and Lester (1968, 1969, 1971b) pursued this hypothesis about suicidal behavior with generally positive results. This application of personal construct psychology speaks less to the meaning of death, however, than to the lack of meaning in one's life. Death as a possibility enters the picture only when life is identified with chaos and a meaningful life seems impossible. Three aspects of personal construct psychology reflect more directly the relationship predicted by the existentialists between a person's approach to death and optimal functioning. First of all, Kelly frequently referred to death as an example of an event which generally threatens the person. As Kelly (1955) stated:

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39 Threat is the awareness of iirminent comprehensive change in one's core structures . In order for the threat to be significant, the prospective change must be substantial. Death is an example. Death is threatening to most people. We describe it as threatening to them because they perceive it both as likely to happen to them and as likely to bring about drastic changes in their core constructs (pp. 489-490) According to Kelly, the process of significant personal change is thwarted under threatening conditions, which allow only superficial change as the person runs for cover to escape the threatening event or strikes out wildly to fend off the threat. Coming to terms with death — finding a way to reduce death's threatening nature by making the fundamental meaning of one's life compatible with death, is one way to ensure an ongoing process of growth in one's life. On the other hand, must every person resolve an incompatibility between personal death and one's core meaning? Might not a person, after all, construct the fundamental meaning of his/her life without reference to death, then discover later on that this core meaning is, fortunately, compatible with death? The nature of psychological meaning in personal construct psychology is a second aspect which leads one to think that a person must confront death directly in order to construct a set of core beliefs and values in life that are compatible with death. Central to Kelly's theory is his belief that psychological meaning is essentially dialectical. In other words, a person comes to know a series of events in terms of the ways in which some events are similar to each other and different from other events. To understand what

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40 a person means by "playful," for example, we need to know the opposite. One person may use the contrast "boring." Playfulness means something quite different to another person who thinks of people as "playful vs. hard-working." The former person will relate to a playful person as a spontaneous, joyful, exciting person; the latter might consider the playful person to be lazy, childish, and irresponsible. The same is true of a person's understanding of life. An exploration of a person's understanding of death will provide information essential to understanding what the person considers important in life. Operating within a personal construct perspective, Rowe (1982) reported on her attempts to explore her clients' "metaphor" about death in order to determine the questions their life was meant to answer. Rowe believes that one of the most significant questions a therapist can ask clients is: "What comes after death?" Another is: "Do you want to be buried or cremated?" Rowe ' s clinical evidence supports her notion that clients who find an optimistic answer to their questions about death will be able to live a fuller, more meaningful life than are those clients who arrive at a negative answer. Because of the dialectical nature of psychological meaning, a person cannot construe adequately the meaning of life v/ithout construing the meaning of its opposite — death. A third aspect of Kelly's theory also suggests that a positive death orientation will result in more optimal functioning. According to Kelly, the resolution of a conflict

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41 requires the development of more abstract, superordinate constructs, resulting in a more integrated construct system, which may be considered a feature of optimal functioning. A person who views life and death as falling on opposite poles of a variety of personal constructs (high death threat) will avoid behaviors which would imply that death is a real possibility, compatible with his/her definition of core self. In the process of resolving the incompatibility betv;een self-definition and death, the person will actively engage in death-related behaviors, which will require and support the deve lop ment of a more structur ed, integr ated construct system through the creation of superordinate, linkage constructs. In several ways, therefore, construct theory supports the notion that coming to terms with death by reducing death threat is a basis for optimal functioning. Rationale and Hypotheses Previous research has indicated a moderate relationship between positive orientation toward death and aspects of optimal functioning. People with less anxiety or fear about personal death tend to have higher scores on measures that tap self-esteem, for instance, and lower scores on general anxiety and depression indices. Two weaknesses of these previous investigations will be examined in this section. After each is examined, a rationale for the present study will be presented, together with the hypotheses to be tested.

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42 The Complexity of Death Orientation and O ptimal Functioning The first limitation noted in previous research is that death orientation and optimal functioning have been conceptualized frequently in unidimensional terms, with single scale questionnaires to assess death anxiety or death fear and single scale questionnaires to assess self-esteem, purpose in life, or general anxiety. Studies which have operationalized death orientation or optimal functioning in a more complex manner have, nonetheless, examined individual correlations between subscales rather than the overall pattern of the relationships. Results which support a relationship between low death fear, for instance, and high scores on two or three Personality Orientation Inventory (POI) subscales are more suggestive than conclusive. One might wonder whether death orientation is related to optimal functioning overall, or merely to the specific aspects measured by the two or three POI subscales. The present study represents an attempt to conceptualize multidimensionally both death orientation and optimal functioning. The multidimensional nature of death orientation has been reflected through the use of the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS) and the Threat Index (TI) , each of which represents a multidimensional approach to death orientation. The FDS was constructed to assess the four predetermined aspects of death previously described, and the TI reflects the idiosyncratic dimensions each person constructs to

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43 understand and anticipate the phenomenon of death. Furthermore, the TI and the FDS represent a combination of the two empirically derived (Rigdon & Epting, 1981) factors of negative evaluation of death (TI scores and scores on the FDS subscales for fear of death and dying of self and death of others) and avoidance of the dying and of death reminders (scores on the FDS subscales for fear of death and dying of others). From several perspectives, therefore, the FDS and the TI represent a multidimensional approach to death orientation. The third empirically derived factor (the frequency of thoughts about death) was not assessed in the present study for two reasons. First of all, previous research more frequently has explored the relationship of aspects of optimal functioning with death attitude measures that load highly on the first two factors of negative evaluation and avoidance. Secondly, there seems to be no compelling reason to believe that optimally functioning persons think about death more frequently or less frequently than other people. An additional advantage of using the TI arises from the attempt to conceptualize death orientation in theoretical terms. Whereas other conceptualizations are in general terms of fear, anxiety, concern, or acceptance, personal construct theory, on whicn the TI is based, provides a conceptualization of death orientation in terms of threat, i.e., the awareness, at the prospect of imminent death, of comprehensive change in the constructs used to clarify and maintain one's identity. Furthermore, construct theory focuses on therapy and suggests

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44 how to reduce threat so that significant personality change and growth can continue. A multidimensional conceptualization of optimal functioning is reflected in this study through the use of differentiation, integration, and purpose in life. Differentiation represents an important process in optimal functioning--the development of independent perspectives regarding a set of events such as personal death and dying. Differentiation was operationalized in two ways. The first was Landfield's procedure for calculating the number of Functionally Independent Constructions (FIC) each person uses for interpreting the phenomenon of death. The second was the number of times a person indicated that neither pole of a construct applied or a lack of certainty about which pole applied. This index of the applicability of the constructs is referred to as the range of convenience (ROC) . Crum (1978) reported a significant correlation between FIC and ROC (r = .80), and he found that ROC scores, like FIC scores, predicted performance on several variables. The FIC effect, however, was more frequently significant, whereas the effect of ROC was often only marginally significant. Both process and structural aspects of optimal functioning are reflected in integration — the development of hierarchically arranged constructs which permit the system to function as a coordinated network. Landfield's ordination and chi-squared indices served as operations of integration in the person's death-related construct system. Finally, the content aspect of optimal functioning is reflected

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45 ill a person's set of beliefs relative to life's purpose and meaning, assessed by the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) . The first hypothesis for this investigation arose from the multidimensional conceptualization of death orientation and optimal functioning and from previous research supporting an inverse relationship between death anxiety or fear of death and aspects of optimal functioning. A significant inverse relationship is predicted between death orientation and optimal functioning. Specifically, low fear of death and dying of self, low fear of the death and dying of others, and low death threat are related to high purpose in life and highly differentiated (as assessed by FIC and ROC) and highly integrated (as assessed by ordination and chi-squared) construct systems for anticipating death. Tv70 Experimental Hypotheses A second weakness of previous studies, in addition to the frequently unidimensional conceptualization of death orientation and optimal functioning, has been a lack of an experimental test for two rival hypotheses that may explain the correlation between positive death orientation and optimal functioning. It may be that a person's ability to cope with stressful life events determines the efficiency of one's strategies for coping with death. On the other hand, a person's ability to come to terms with death in a positive, accepting way may determine one's ability to live a healthy, productive life.

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46 Investigators may hesitate to test these competing hypotheses because of the difficulty in changing death-related attr.itudes. A variety of studies have investigated ways to improve death attitudesPreexisting groups such as Zen meditators and Buddhists (Garfield, 1975), meditators (Curtis, 1980) , and creative artists (Goodman, 1975) have been found to have lower death anxiety than control subjects. Other studies have used a quasi-experimental design, comparing the death orientation of groups who completed death education experiences to the orientation of control group subjects. Som.e studies have not found the expected changes in death attitudes. Bell (1975), for instance, reported no differences in fear of death, although participants in the death education course thought about death m.ore frequently than control subjects and were more interested in discussing death. And Rainey and Epting (1977) found lower death threat in death education students not only after the course, but also before it began, indicating that positive death orientation m.ay be a selection factor for death education courses. In a similar study by Tobacyk and Eckstein (19 80) , however, death education students, compared to another group of students, had lower TI scores, when pretreatment differences in threat were statistically controlled. Several other studies have also supported the effectiveness of death education experiences. Murray (1974) and Whelan and Warren (1980) found reduction in death anxiety when the posttest was delayed for four and eight weeks, respectively, after

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47 the death-related experience had ended, suggesting that it may take some time for changes in death attitudes to be consolidated. Durlak (1978) found that an eight-hour didactic, information-oriented workshop on death reduced death anxiety (DAS scores) more than an experiential, feeling-oriented v/orkshop, while the experiential workshop resulted in lower death fear (scores on Lester's FDS) . In a similar experiment (Kurlychek, 1978b) , participants randomly assigned to an experiential death education course had lower fear of the death of others than participants assigned to an informationdiscussion course on death and a waiting list control group. But the information-discussion course produced lower fear of death of self, compared to the waiting list controls. Interestingly, Durlak and Kurlychek also investigated the effect of the death-related experiences on purpose in life, one aspect of optimal functioning as conceptualized in the present study. Durlak reported no impact of either workshop on PIL scores, while Kurlychek found that the experiential death education course, compared to the information course and the waiting list group, produced higher PIL scores. In light of the perspective previously presented from existential philosophy and personal construct psychology, the present study was an experim.ental test of the impact of positive death orientation on optimal functioning. In addition to the previous correlational hypothesis, two experimental hypotheses were generated. First, it was hypothesized that the treatment groups, compared to the control group.

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48 will have more positive death orientation, i.e., lower fear of death and dying of self and of others and lower death threat. This is a check on the effectiveness of the treatments. Second, the treatment groups, compared to the control group, will be functioning at a more optimal level at posttest. In other words, they will have more purpose in life and will be more differentiated and integrated in their constructed anticipations of death. The importance of resolving this issue can be seen in the implications for therapy, counseling for personal growth, and death education. Death should be a central issue in therapy and counseling, as Rowe (1982) believed, if a change to a more positive death orientation results in healthier functioning. Death education courses would acquire an importance not only for their potential to change attitudes about death and dying, but also for their potential to produce a higher level of functioning in life. Should evidence support the impact of general life coping strategies on one's approach to death and dying, then counseling for personal growth might profitably focus on life coping skills, and death education would lose some of its importance as a personal growth experience.

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CHAPTER II METHOD Subjects Participants in the study were undergraduate students in general psychology, who received course credit for their participation. Of the 9 5 who participated, 79 were freshmen or sophomores. Their ages ranged from 17 to 32, with a median age of 18.8. All but ten were in the 18 to 20 age range. An equal number of 48 females and 48 males participated. Four of the subjects were black; the others were white. Instruments The four questionnaires for this experiment were the Threat Index (TI) , the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS) , the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) , and a Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ) . Appendices A, B, and C contain a copy of the questionnaires, except for the copyrighted PIL. Threat Index (TI) Because the process of eliciting death-related constructs from each person is time-consuming, the present investigation 49

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50 used a provided form of the TI, consisting of 30 of the most frequently elicited death-related constructs. Krieger, Epting, and Hays (1979) initially developed the 40-construct provided form, the TI p40 . The number of constructs was reduced later to 30 (Neimeyer, Dingemans, & Epting, 1977) . For the present study, a new TI p30 was introduced. Like the form.er TI p30 , it used 30 constructs appearing on the TI p40 . An examination of five of those constructs suggested that they were elicited not by death as an event, but by the concrete stimulus "death" which was an element subjects used to generate the initial constructs in the elicited version of the TI. These five constructs were: relating to others-not relating to others, specific-general, concrete-abstract, personal-impersonal, and subjective-objective. Compared to the other death elements, this vague "death" element could reasonably be described by the right pole in each of the five constructs. Accordingly, these five constructs were replaced with five others from the TI p40 which were more clearly related to death as a personal event: pleasure-pain, helping othor.s -being selfish, insecure-secure, useful-useless, and s tagnat ion-growth . The scalar form of the TI was used. According to this form, the elements are rated along 13-point scales, with the construct poles as the end points. Furthermore, in order to score the TI for the differentiation and integration indices, one slight modification was initiated. In addition to rating the standard elements self and m y own death , each person rated

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51 a series of 10 death-related elements adapted, with minor changes, from previous TI research (Krieger et al., 1974; Rainey & Epting, 1977). To control for an order effect, these 10 elements (listed in Appendix A) were presented to each participant in random order after the self and personal death elements. The 30 constructs also were presented to each participant in three different random orderings. The TI was scored for the number of splits between the way self and my own death were rated. A person, for instance, who rated self as useful and death as useless received a score of one split. The total score was the number of splits for the 30 constructs. Because the ratings allowed for a neutral zero rating, each participant was requested to make a second choice for those constructs on which the zero point V7as used to rate self or personal death. Various forms of the TI have produced acceptable estim.ates of reliability, with a median test-retest coefficient of .86 for a 4-week period and a median split-half coefficient of .93 (Rigdon et al., 1979). Research has also supported the validity of the TI as a measure of death orientation (Rigdon et al. , 1979). Threat Index scores correlate moderately with scores on a variety of other death orientation instruments, for instance, and those who had planned their funeral or provided for body disposal at death had, as expected, lower TI scores than nonplanners. In addition to the number of splits, the Threat Index was also scored for the total difference between the way that

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52 self and personal death were rated (WTI) , an index used by Warren (1982) in place of the split score. A person, for example, who rated self as extremely useful (+6) and death as slightly useful (+2) would receive a score of 4 on that construct. The WTI score was the total for the 30 constructs. The nuniber of zeros the participant initially used to rate personal death was also calculated because meaning depolarization (i.e., the tendency to rate elements toward the neutral midpoint) is considered in construct theory as an indicator of possible anxiety (Rigdon et al., 1979) — an event the person is unable to make any sense of. Although the hypotheses for the experiment were not phrased in terms of the difference score (WTI) or the number of zeros, post hoc analysis would include these potentially useful variables. The ratings of the 10 death-related elements were scored for range of convenience (ROC) simply by counting the number of zero ratings. The scoring for the Landfield FIC, ordination, and chi-square indices was more complex (Landfield & Schmittdiel, 1981; Leitner et al., 1976). For FIC, each construct dimension was matched with each other construct dimension, and it was noted when there was agreement in the application of the two constructs to the death-related events. The fewer the instances of overlap, the more functional independence of the two constructs; the more overlap, the more functional similarity. Using the standard 80% overlap criterion, two constructs were considered functionally identical when the participant used the same construct pole

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53 to describe eight of the ten death-related elements. The same procedure was applied to the 10 death-related elements. Two elements were considered functionally identical if the participant used the same pole of 24 of the 30 constructs to describe the two events. The number of functionallyindependent constructs and the number of functionally independent elements were summed for a total FIC score. To calculate the ordination score for a construct, the 10 element ratings on that construct were examined. If a participant used only three different rating points (e.g., 2, 5, and 6), a score of 3 was multiplied by the difference between the highest and lowest ratings (6-2=4) for a score of 12. This calculation was made for all 30 of the 30 scores. Similarly, ordination scores were calculated for each of the elements. The number of different rating points used in describing an element with the 30 constructs was multiplied by the difference between the high and low ratings, The ordination score for the elements was the average of the 10 element scores, which was then combined with the average ordination score for constructs for a total ordination score. To calculate the chi-square index for a construct, it was necessary to count the number of times that each rating point was used to describe the 10 death-related elements. From these frequencies, the chi-square statistic was calculated as a measure of the difference from a rectangular distribution in which all ratings are used with equal frequency. After the chi-square statistic was calculated for

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54 the 30 constructs, an average was taken as the chi-square score for constructs. An average chi-square score for elements was also calculated and added to the average chisquare score for constructs to create a total chi-square score. The Landfield indices for differentiation and integration (including ROC) were calculated from the TI ratings by computer (Landfield, Page, Barrows, Willis, Lavelle, & Schmittdiel, 1981) . To ensure that threat scores be mathematically independent of the differentiation and integration indices, no ratings were scored for both threat and the latter indices. Differentiation and integration scores were calculated on the ratings of the 10 death-related elements only, while the ratings of self and personal death were used to derive death threat scores. For clients in therapy, Landfield (1971) reported testretest reliability coefficients of FIC scores of approximately .50. These low correlations are not so surprising, in that therapy should produce change in the clients' construct systems. In this population, one would expect change in FIC scores rather than stability. The stability of FIC scores needs to be examined with participants for whom no intervention occurs from pretest to posttest. Crum (1978) reported a test-retest reliability coefficient of .71 for ROC scores and a low .48 for ordination scores. These coefficients may have been artificially reduced by the fatigue of the participants, who completed the retest after a two-hour

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55 experimental session. Crum reported that many subjects seemed bored and completed the retest in a hurried manner. Reliability estimates for chi-squared have not been reported. The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale (FDS) This questionnaire consists of 36 items to which a person responds on a 6-point scale to indicate slight, moderate, or extreme agreem.ent or slight, moderate, or extreme disagreement with each statement. The FDS is scored for four aspects of death orientation: fear of the death or dying of self and fear of the death or dying of others. As summarized by Lester (1974) and by Wass (in press) , the evidence supports the test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the FDS. The validity also has been supported by moderate correlations between FDS subscale scores and scores on several other death attitude scales. The Purpose in Life Test (PIL) Participants respond to the 20 PIL items on a 7-point scale to indicate little meaning in life (score of 1) or significant meaning in life (score of 7) . Investigations of the reliability of the PIL have resulted in a median splithalf reliability coefficient of .91 (Crumbaugh & Maholick, 1969; Reker & Cousins, 1979). Test-retest reliability ranged from .83 for one w^eek to .68 for 12 weeks (Reker, 1977). Evidence supporting the validity of the PIL as a measure of meaning in life was presented earlier.

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56 The Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ) Items were constructed to assess demographic variables, participants' religious beliefs and practices, and their previous experience of near-death or the death of significant others. Analyses involving the variables assessed by the PDQ are regarded as post hoc, in that no a priori hypotheses were generated. Procedure To carry out the experimental design required two sessions. The first session involved the completion of the pretest questionnaires and participation in a death-related experience for the treatment groups or an alternative experience for the control group. In the second session, participants completed the posttest questionnaires. First Session Participation in the experiment was in groups, ranging in size from 9 to 12 members. The session began with a description of the purpose of the study and of the procedures as stated on the informed consent form (Appendix D) , After an opportunity to ask questions, the participants signed the informed consent form. Each participant next received a

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57 packet of four questionnaires in random order: the TI , the FDS, the PIL, and the PDQ. When every member of the group had completed the questionnaires (45 minutes to an hour) , the group members participated in the experience to which they were randomly assigned: the death-related experience of writing an obituary/biography {Appendix E) or of writing a farewell letter (Appendix F) or the stress management experience (Appendix G) not related to death (control group) . The two death-related experiences were selected as commonly used components of death education courses that are likely to reduce threat, in that both involve the playful, imaginative realization of one's personal mortality. Writing the farewell letter invites the person to behave "as if" he/she were dying, and writing an obituary/biography invites the person to act "as if" he/she were dead. Just as the playful enactment of a new role in fixed role therapy (Kelly, 1955) provides for the development of new constructs to support the new behavior as "my own," so the enactment of oneself as dying or dead would provide the opportunity to resolve the split between self and death through the development of superordinate construct dimensions which resolve the split. The use of these two experiences to reduce death threat permits the determination of whether these components of death education courses are the ones that are generally responsible for the change in death attitudes reported as the result of death education courses, which are comprised of a multitude of components, both informational and experiential.

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58 The stress management experience (Apgar & Callahan, 19 80) was selected as a treatment which was not related to death, but one that would be interesting and useful to the participants in the study. Each experience began with a brief introduction and a period of time for the participants to complete their written response, followed by an opportunity to share with others what they had written and to discuss the meaning of the experience and their reaction to it. The discussion phase of the stress management experience was more structured, involving the presentation of information about stress and its control, as well as an opportunity to practice a relaxation exercise. Each experience lasted for about an hour, after which participants selected a time to return for the second session seven weeks later. Second Session A reminder of the second appointment was mailed to all participants. When they arrived for the second session, they completed the TI, the FDS, and the PIL, once again in groups of 9 to 12. This session ended with an opportunity to request feedback about the results of the investigation.

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CHAPTER III RESULTS This chapter will present the results of the analyses of data provided by the participants in this study. After data regarding instrument reliability are presented, the results pertaining to each hypothesis will be presented in order, followed by a presentation of analyses for variables about which no a priori hypotheses were generated. Instrument Reliability The provided form of the TI used in this study involved minor changes from previous TI research. Evidence regarding the reliability of this TI form was, therefore, important. The data supported both the internal consistency of the TI (split-half r = .90, corrected by the Speaorman-Brown formula) and the test-retest stability for the 31 control participants over seven weeks (r = .73). These reliability estimates are comparable to those previously reported for other TI forms (Rigdon et al . , 1979). While the stability of the overall FDS scores (summing the four subscale scores) was acceptable (r = .76), only the DyS (fear of dying of self) subscale scores matched that level of relationship (r = .73). Pre-post correlations for the DS 59

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60 (fear of death of self; .59), DO (fear of death of others; .42), and DyO (fear of dying of others; .46) subscales, though significant, are lower than one might wish, perhaps due to the small number of items for some of the subscales. Furthermore, the FDS subscale intercorrelations (Table 1) were surprisingly high, some apparently higher than the estimates of individual subscale stability. One would expect greater independence between supposedly orthogonal aspects of death orientation. PIL scores, on the other hand, were quite stable (r = .85). The other optimal functioning indices, unfortunately, did not seem to have the same level of stability as PIL scores, Pretest-posttest correlations for FIC (functionally independent constructions; .52), ROC (range of convenience; .60), and chi-square (.65) scores indicated significant, though moderate stability. There was no relationship, however, between ordination scores derived from the two testing sessions (r = .18, n.s.). Furthermore, there was post hoc evidence that the scores of the 31 control group members significantly decreased on the three most stable reptest indices, although not on ordination scores (Table 2) . In summary, the results supported the reliability of the TI, the PIL, and the FDS subscale for fear of the dying of self (DyS) . The moderate support for the stability of three FDS subscales (DS, DO, and DyO) and of FIC, ROC, and chisquare scores was less than one might expect. The results simply failed to support the reliability of ordination scores.

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61 Table 1 Intercorrelations of Pretest Scores on Four FDS Subscales for All Participants

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62 First Hypothesis The first hypothesis predicted a significant inverse relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning. More specifically, low fear of death and dying of self, low fear of the death and dying of others, and low death threat were predicted to be related to high purpose in life and to highly differentiated and highly integrated construct systems for anticipating death. This hypothesis was tested using the pretest scores of the 96 participants on the FDS, the PIL, and the TI (including scores for the differentiation and integration indices) . As stated before, two scores were derived from the PIL: a total score on all 20 items and a second score excluding items 10 and 15, which appear to assess a person's attitudes about personal death. To prevent participants' responses on these two items from artificially inflating the relationship between purpose in life and the death orientation variables, the plan was to perform the analyses with and without these two items. For the whole sample, the two scores were practically identical (r = .99). In order to have results that are comparable to others using the PIL therefore, the analyses which involved purpose in life used the participants' total PIL scores. Pretest death orientation and optimal functioning scores were analyzed by three multivariate procedures: canonical correlation, analysis of variance, and multiple regression.

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63 Canonical Correlation Analyses The primary strategy for testing the first hypothesis called for a multivariate canonical correlation analysis of the pretest scores to estimate the amount of overlap between the death orientation variables, on the one hand, and the optimal functioning variables, on the other. An examination of the correlation between the differentiation and integration indices, however, revealed strong relationships between several of the optimal functioning variables (Table 3) . Entering all four variables in the same canonical analysis would contradict the assumption of the relative independence of the variables in each set in a canonical correlation. One solution for this problem of multicollinearity (Green, 1978) is to drop from the analysis one highly overlapping variable, retaining those that have the most theoretical importance. For that reason, analysis of the pretest scores initially used the FIC index because, as a differentiation index, it is rooted more directly in construct theory than ROC scores. As an integration index, the first analysis used chi-square scores which were developed as an improvement over ordination. Analyses were also performed using the less highly related FIC and ordination scores as differentiation and integration indices and, finally, the ROC and ordination scores. Because of the potential multicollinearity, scores which had a correlation greater than /. 70/ were not included together in any analysis: FIC and ROC (r = .74), ROC

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64 Table 3 Pretest Intercorrelations betv/een Indices of Differentiation and Integration Chi-square Ordination ROC FIC .35* -.26 .74* Chi-square — -.82* .76* Ordination — -.51* ROC Note . Scores were based on responses of all 96 participants . *£ <.001.

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65 and chi-square (r = .76), and ordination and chi-square (£ = -.82). The analyses (Table 4) supported a consistent relations?iip between positive death orientation and the optimal functioning variables. Using a standard .30 value to gauge the importance of each variable's contribution to the overall relationship indicates that low death threat, low fear of one's own dying, and of the death and dying of others is related to high purpose in life, high FIC and ROC scores (highly differentiated views of death) , and low ordination and high chi-square scores (low integration in viewing death) . This relationship is evident in similar analyses that used FIC, ordination, and chi-square scores for constructs only (Table 4) , instead of the total scores described earlier, which were calculated for both constructs and elements. The relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning was as predicted, except that positive death orientation unexpectedly was related to low integration in viewing death (low ordination and high chi-square scores) . A multivariate analysis of participants' scores on all variables revealed evidence of initial sex differences (Table 5) , due to differences in scores on four of the five death orientation scales (Table 6) . Female participants scored significantly higher than males on fear of the death of self (10.5 and 1.3), fear of dying of self (5.8 and 0.9), fear of the death of others (10.6 and 3.7), and death threat (17.7 and 13.5) .

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66

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67 Table 5 Manova Summary Table for Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores Source of variation df F Sex of participant 10,81 2.81* Treatment condition Contrast between control and average of two treatments Contrast between two treatments Treatment by sex, roots 1 and 2 Treatment by sex, root 2 Note . The effect of treatment condition was tested by the two a priori orthogonal comparisons . Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda criterion. *£ <.005. 10,81

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68 Table 6 Analysis of Variance of Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores for Sex Differences Dependent variable MS F{1,90) Fear of death of self (DS) Fear of dying of self (DyS) Fear of death of others (DO) Fear of dying of others (DyO) Death threat (TI) Purpose in life (PIL) Functionally independent constructions (FIC) Range of convenience (ROC) Chi-square Ordination 1932.89

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69 Because of the initial sex differences in death orientation, canonical analyses were performed separately on scores of the female and the male participants (Table 7). For the females, the results were similar to those of the whole group, with low death threat and low fear of the dying of self and of the death of others significantly associated with high purpose in life, high differentiation (FIC) , and low integration (high chi-square and low ordination) . For the males, low fear of the dying of self and others was related significantly to high purpose in life, with the other variables not making an important contribution to the relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning. Multivariate Analyses of Variance In addition to exploring the linear relationship between optimal functioning and death orientation variables, a second method was used to explore the additive effects of some variable sets. Previous investigations (Crum, 1978; Landfield, 1979; Landfield & Schmittdiel, 1981; Wilkins, 1978) have explored, for instance, the interaction between FIC and ordination indices by analysis of variance, using a median split on both indices. In order to examine the Landfield indices in a manner comparable to previous studies, similar analyses that categorized participants by high versus lov; scores were performed to explore potential interactive effects, although no a priori hypotheses were generated for the present study. These multivariate analyses failed to find any significant

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70 G ca c o -H 05 4J 0) (0 rH C S 0) •H o -p (U D P tn O •P Q) S^ CM d w rH e 0) o O Eh w w o rH CO (0 < c o •H +J rH 0) H o H c o u c Em o -H d o d (d 01 e o fa to u •H 4-) cn -H -P fd -P tn P^ en !T> (D

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71 intereLCtion between FIC and chi-square (Table 8) or between FIC and ordination (Table 9) . Nor was there evidence from these analyses of any significant main effects on death orientation scores for FIC, chi-square, or ordination. Mu l tiple Regression Analyses A final method for studying the relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning was to examine the ability of the optimal functioning variables to predict scores on the TI as a single criterion, because the TI can be considered by itself to be a multidimensional measure of death attitudes. Due to the multicollinearity problem mentioned before, the multiple regression analyses once again used the differentiation and integration indices in pairs that were not highly correlated. Although the overall regression equations approached significance (Table 10) , there was no evidence that the optimal functioning variables accurately predicted TI scores. In summary, the results of the canonical correlation analyses support the hypothesized association between positive death orientation and the optimal functioning variables. The relationship was as predicted, except that participants with positive death orientation tended to have lower, rather than higher integration in their views of death. Although females generally had higher scores on the death orientation scales, the relationship between positive death orientation and optimal functioning held for both females and males. There was a difference, however, in the pattern of this relationship.

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72 Table 8 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High Versus Low FIC and Chi-square Scores on Death Orientation Scores Source of variation df FIC Chi-square FIC by chi-square 5,88

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73 Table 9 Manova Summary Table for Effects of High Versus Low FIC and Ordination Scores on Death Orientation Scores Source of variation df FIC Ordination FIC by ordination 5,88

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74 Table 10 Multiple Regressions of Death Threat Scores on Selected Optinal Functioning Variables Predictor variables R^ F(3,92) PIL, FIC, and ordination PIL, FIC, and chi-square PIL, ROC, and ordination .07

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75 For the females, the pattern was similar to that of the whole group, in that low threat and low fear of the dying jof^^se If and of the death of others were associated with high purpose in life, high differentiation, and low integration. For the males, low fear of the dying of self and of others was associated with high purpose in life. For the males, neither the differentiation and integration scores nor the other death orientation scores contributed to the relationship. There was no evidence from the multivariate analyses of variance of an interactive effect of differentiation and integration indices on death orientation scores. Nor did the optimal functioning variables, according to the multiple regression analyses, accurately predict TI scores taken as a single estimate of death orientation. -Second Hypothesis The second hypothesis represents a check on the effectiveness of the tv/o treatments v/hich were predicted to increase the positive death orientation of the participants. Compared to the control group participants, those who participated in the death-related experiences were expected to have, at posttest, lower fear of the death and dying of self and others and lower death threat. To ensure an initial similarity in death orientation and optimal functioning between the treatment groups, a multivariate analysis of the pretest scores on the five death orientation and the five optimal functioning

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76 variables was performed, with sex and treatment level as the two independent factors (Table 5) . There was no evidence for any interaction between treatment condition and participant sex. As previously noted, the analysis did indicate higher scores for female participants on four of the five death orientation scales. There was no evidence, however, of any overall difference between the two treatment groups, or between the treatment groups and the control group on the death orientation and optimal functioning variables. Even a post hoc examination of the univariate tests associated with each dependent variable (Table 11) indicated little evidence for any differences, with only the apparent differences in TI scores, ordination scores, and chi-square scores approaching significance (Table 12) . The results indicate relative similarity between participants in the three treatment conditions in their initial level of death orientation and optimal functioning. A multivariate analysis of variance of the death orientation scores of the 95 participants who returned for posttest (Table 13) produced results similar to the results from the pretest scores. Once again, there was no evidence for a significant interaction between participant sex and treatment condition. The sex differences remained stable, with the females continuing to exhibit a more negative death orientation as at pretest. Specifically, they had higher mean scores for the same death orientation scales: TI (19.1 for females and iC.3 for males), DS (6.7 and 1.9), DyS (7.1 and 2.1), and

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77 Table 11 Anovas for Treatment Differences in Pretest Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Scores Variable

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78 Table 12 Mean Scores for Death Threat, Ordination, and Chi-square by Treatment Conditions for Pretest and Posttest Treatment Variable TI Ordination Chi-square Pretest Obituary/biography 14.0 34.4 76.1 Farevzell letter 15.5 33.2 74.6 Stress management control 17.3 37.8 54.7 Posttest Obituary/biography 16.3 36.4 62.5 Farewell letter 17.5 33.5 64.3 Stress management control 19.2 39.0 45.2 Note. For each group, n = 31, except for the farewell letter treatment group at pretest (n = 34) and at posttest (n = 33) .

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79 Table 13 Manova Summary Table for Posttest Death Orientation Scores Source of variation df F p Sex of participant 5,85 3.25 <.01 Treatment condition Contrast between control and average of two treatments 5,8 5 <1 Contrast between two treatments 5,85 1.06 <.39 Treatment by sex Roots 1 and 2 10,170 1.30 <.235 Root 2 4,85.5 <1 Note. Tests of significance used the V7ilks Lambda criterion.

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80 DO (7.8 and 4.2). Support for a difference in the mean scor-es on the DyO subscale (-2.0 and -5.0) was marginal (Table 14) . There was no evidence that the two death-related treatments, compared to each other or compared to the stress management control condition, produced any difference in death orientation. A post hoc examination of the univariate tests of the five death orientation variables (Table 15) also revealed no evidence of differences. The only F test larger than 1 was associated with mean TI scores (Table 12) , but even this apparent difference was not significant. Overall, the results did not support the effectiveness of either deathrelated experience for producing a more positive death orientation. In order to prevent an interpretation of the apparently lower TI scores for the treatment groups compared to the control group (Table 12) as an effect of the treatment conditions, a multivariate analysis of covariance was conducted on the posttest death orientation scores adjusted for possible pretest differences in TI scores (Table 16) . This analysis also failed to support a treatment effect or an effect for the interaction of treatment and sex of participant. Of the post hoc univariate F tests comparing the effect of the two treatments to the control condition on the five death orientation scores, only the F statistic for DO scores was greater than 1 [F(l,88) = 1.05, p < .31]. As indicated by the previous analysis, sex differences remained in the posttest death orientation scores. Neither the multivariate analysis

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81 Table 14 Anovas for Sex Differences in Posttest Death Orientation Scores Variable MS F(l,89) Fear of death of self (DS) 457.64 Fear of dying of self (DyS) 540.35 Fear of death of others (DO) 255.32 Fear of dying of others (DyO) 207.20 Death threat (TI) 164.10 5.18

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82 Table 15 Anovas for Treatment Differences in Posttest Death Orientation Scores

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83 Table 16 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of Posttest Death Orientation Scores with Pretest Death Threat Scores as Covariate Source of variation df F p Covariate (TI) 5,84 13.10 <.001 Sex of participant 5,84 2.42 <.043 Treatment condition Contrast between control and average of tv/o treatments 5,84 <1 Contrast between two treatments 5,84 <1 Treatment by sex Roots 1 and 2 10,168 1.48 <,15 Root 2 4,84.5 <1

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84 of variance nor the multivariate analysis of covariance revealed any evidence that the two death-related experiences, compared to the stress management experience, reduced the participants' level of death threat and fear. The results failed to support the second hypothesis. Third Hypothesis A higher level of optimal functioning for participants in the death-related treatments compared to the control group members was predicted in the third hypothesis. As indicated above, analysis of the pretest scores did not provide evidence of pretest differences in optimal functioning. A multivariate analysis of variance of the posttest scores on the optimal functioning variables similarly failed to support either a significant interaction between participants* sex and treatment condition, or a significant difference due to sex (Table 17) . Contrary to expectation, however, there was no indication of the increased optimal functioning of participants in the death-related experiences. A post hoc examination of the univariate tests of each of the five optimal functioning variables revealed the same support found in the pretest scores for lower integration in the treatment groups, with higher chi-square scores and marginally lower ordination scores (Tables 18 and 12) . In order to prevent an interpretation of the post hoc indication of lower integration as an effect of the death-related

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85 Table 17 Manova Summary Table for Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores Source of variation df F p Sex of participant 5,85 1.50 <.20 Treatment condition Contrast between control and average of two treatments Contrast between two treatments Treatment by sex Roots 1 and 2 Root 2 Note . Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda criterion. 5,85

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86 Table 18 Anovas for Treatment Effects on Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores Contrast between control and average of tv.-o treatments Contrast between two treatments Vari

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87 experiences, a multivariate analysis of covariance was conducted on the posttest optimal functioning scores adjusted for possible pretest differences in ordination and chi-square scores (Table 19) . As in the previous analysis of the posttest optimal functioning scores, neither the treatment effect nor the interaction between treatment and sex was significant. Even the univariate F tests for the five optimal functioning variables failed to indicate any post hoc evidence for treatment differences in optimal functioning scores. Finally, although the multivariate test indicated a significant sex difference in the adjusted optimal functioning scores, the follow-up univariate tests did not reveal the nature of this difference. Only the test for the adjusted chi-square scores approached significance [F(l,87) = 3.81, p < .054]. To summarize, neither the multivariate analysis of posttest optimal functioning scores nor the multivariate analysis of covariance supported the significant effect of the deathrelated treatment experiences predicted in the third hypothesis, Additional Analyses Besides the analyses linked to the three central hypotheses, further analyses were performed regarding relationships about which no specific hypotheses were generated. After briefly reporting the results of these analyses, this section will conclude with an overall summary of the results.

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88 Table 19 Multivariate Analysis of Covariance of Posttest Optimal Functioning Scores with Pretest Ordination and Chi-square Scores as Covariates Source of variation df Covariates Roots 1 and 2 10,166 21.27 <.001 Root 2 4,83.5 9.57 <.001 Sex of participant 5,83 2.60 <.031 Treatment condition Contrast between control and average of two treatments 5,8 3 <1 Contrast between two treatments 5,8 3 1.09 <.37 Treatment by sex Roots 1 and 2 10,166 1.72 <.08 Root 2 4,83.5 <1 Note. Tests of significance used the Wilks Lambda criterion.

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89 Religious Beliefs and Practices Previous research (Rigdon et al., 1979) indicated the potential usefulness of the TI for determining the relationship batv/een religious beliefs and death orientation. Although no a priori hypotheses were established for the present study, relevant data were available to examine this relationship. One-half of the participants reported they were Protestant, 28 were Catholic, and 10 were Jewish. The other 10 claimed other religious affiliations, including agnosticism and atheism. In addition to indicating their religious affiliation, participants responded to two items regarding their overall level of religious devotion and their belief in life after death. Three other items assessed the frequency of attending church, saying grace, and reading the Bible or other religious literature. When an examination of the intercorrelations between these five items revealed a high association between devotion and church attendance (.82), the latter was retained in the analyses because it appeared to be a more behavioral indication of religious devotion. The first analysis, a canonical correlation of death orientation variables and religious practice variables, revealed a sigaif icant, moderate relationship (R = -45, R^ = .20, £ < .04) between death orientation and religious belief, with more devout participants having more positive death orientation (Table 20). High scores on the TI , the DyS and DyO subscales were related to a tendency not to believe in an afterlife and to less frequent church attendance, religious

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90

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91 reading, and saying grace. Because of the theoretical importance of the TI for the present study, the relationship between death threat and religious practice was analyzed in particular. A multiple regression analysis revealed a significant, moderate relationship [R = .39, R^ = .15, F(4,91) = 4.02, £ < ,005]. Because church attendance [F(l,91) = .02] and saying grace [F(l,92) = .08] did not make a significant contribution to the amount of explained variance, they were eliminated from the analysis, resulting in a significant relationship of low death threat to m.ore frequent religious reading and a stronger belief in a life after death (Table 21) . Previous Experience with Death and Dying Of the 96 participants, 22 responded that there was a time v;hen they genuinely believed they were going to die, whether from an accident (16) , an illness (4) , or a suicide attempt (2) , One might predict that such individuals, as a result of their "close brush" with death, would develop a more positive death orientation. A multivariate analysis of variance of the death orientation scores failed to support such a hypothesis, although the overall test approached significance [F(5,90) = 2.17, p < .064] and the follow-up univariate test of the TI scores indicated marginally lower death threat [F(l,94) = 2.70, £ < .10] for those v/ho experienced a near-death experience (mean = 13.23) compared to those who had not had such an experience (mean = 16.26).

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92 Table 21 Multiple Regression of Pretest Death Threat Scores on Religious Beliefs/Practices Variables Source df MS Regression 2,93 416.30 8.15 <.n005 IAD 1,93 243.72 4.77 <.03 Bible 1,93 354.06 6.93 <.01 Note . LAD = Belief in life after death. Bible = Frequency of reading bible or religious literature.

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93 Only 19 of the participants reported no recollection of the death of a family member or close friend. Almost half (44) recalled one such experience. One might expect people who have more frequently experienced the death of significant others to have come to terms with death and dying and to have a more positive death orientation. Multiple regression failed to find a relationship between the frequency of the death of a relative or friend and scores on the death orientation scales for the males [F(7,40) = 1.00, p < .45; R^ = .15] or for the females [F(7,40) = 1.19, p < .33; R^ = .17] in the study. Alternative Scores for the Threat Index In addition to scoring the TI for the number of splits, scores were also derived for the number of zeroes initially used to rate my own death (as a measure of possible anxiety about death) and for how the person's overall viev/s of self and personal death differ from each other. This latter score (WTI) is the index Warren (1982) used to assess death threat. Tl-ie plan was to replace the standard TI scores with these tv,'o scores to compare their relationship to the other death orientation and optimal functioning variables. An examination of the intercorrelations of the pretest scores revealed that, while death anxiety scores were not significantly related to TI scores (r = -.10, n.s.) or any other death orientation variables, there was a significant relationship between death anxiety and ROC (r = .60, £ < .001),

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94 which was the number of zeroes the person used to rate the 10 death-related elements. This suggested a methodological confounding between death anxiety scores and ROC, one of the optimal functioning variables. Because of this suspected methodological overlap, no analysis of the death anxiety scores was performed. For the WTI scores, canonical correlations were performed on the scores of the 96 participants, replacing TI scores with WTI scores (Table 22). As in the case of the TI , the three WTI canonical analyses indicated a significant relationship between death orientation and the optimal functioning variables, although the relationship between WTI and the newly created death orientation variable (/r/ < .10) indicated that WTI did not make an important contribution to the relationship in any of the three analyses . Although WTI and TI are highly correlated (r = .84) and WTI scores were relatively stable from preto posttest (r = .76), the WTI scores, compared to TI scores, appear to make no unique contribution to death orientation or to the relationship between death orientation and optim.al functioning, at least as these were assessed in the present study. TI split scores appear to be a more useful index of death orientation than WTI scores. In conclusion, the results supported the reliability of the TI and the PIL. Moderate support was found for the reliability of the FDS scales and for FIC, ROC, and chisquare scores. No support was found for the stability of ordination scores. The results supported the relationship

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95

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96 predicted in the first hypothesis between positive death orientation and optimal functioning, except that low integration scores were associated with positive death orientation, rather than with negative death orientation, as predicted. The results failed to support the second and third hypotheses. There was no evidence that the deathorientation experiences, compared to the stress management experience, had any effect on either death orientation or optimal functioning. There were sex differences in death orientation, with females reporting a more negative death orientation than males both at pretest and at posttest. Furthermore, there was post hoc evidence for a moderate association between positive death orientation and religious beliefs and practices, whether death orientation was assessed by the FDS subscales and the TI or by the TI alone. There was marginal indication, again post hoc, for lower death threat in participants who had experienced a near-death experience. The frequency with which participants had experienced the death of relatives or close friends was not, however, associated with death orientation. Finally, there was some indication that TI split scores provide a better measure of death threat than do WTI difference scores.

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CHAPTER IV DISCUSSION This discussion v/ill focus on the nature of the support for the hypotheses tested and on the aspects of the hypotheses that were not supported by the results . Strengths and limitations of the study will be examined next, and the discussion will conclude by drawing implications for future research. Death Orientation and Optimal Functioning Relationship There was evidence, as expected, for a significant, moderate relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning. Judging by the variables that were most important in determining this relationship, one can conclude that individuals who have a positive orientation toward death, with low death threat and low fear of one's own dying or the death and dying of others, also live a more meaningful life and have a more differentiated, less integrated understanding of death than do individuals with more negative death orientation. In terms of the aspects of death orientation and optimal functioniiig investigated here, a more negative response to personal death and a more active avoidance of the dying and of death reminders are linked to lower purpose in life (content aspect 97

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98 of optimal functioning) , a less differentiated view of death (process aspect) , and a more integrated view of death (reflecting both process and structural aspects) . As predicted, people who have come to terms with the issue of death live a more meaningful life and have a wider variety of alternative ways to make sense of death as a personal event. The link between positive death orientation and low integration was the one unexpected feature of this overall relationship. Two possible explanations may be offered for this finding. First of all, low integration, at least in the realm of death orientation, might provide for greater adaptability. Secondly, the low integration might be related to the participants' level of development with respect to the issue of personal death. Let us examine these two possible interpretations. Within construct theory, low integration, especially when accompanied by high differentiation, is referred to as fragmentation and has been linked to obsessive-compulsive behavior (Kelly, 1955) , suicidal tendencies (Landfield, 1971) , and thought disorder (Adams-Webber, 1979; Fransella & Bannister, 1977) . Landfield (1982) focused on reducing fragmentation in clients' personal construct systems by increasing integration and unity as a means to resolve a variety of client dileimnas. Construct theory does not, on the other hand, demand absolute consistency as a requirement for adaptable living. Some degree of logical incompatibility (low integration) can be tolerated, provided the system is held together by a few superordinate constructs. A college student could.

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99 for example, focus her energy on becoming a world class gymnast and, at the same time, on completing a difficult academic program with a perfect 4.0 average, provided both emphases are linked by an overriding desire to excel and "make something" of herself. The logical inconsistency associated with low integration may even be advantageous in some instances. Landfield (19S2) noted that, in a tightly integrated system, even small changes have implications for change throughout the system. Gradual, step-by-step personal change more readily occurs in the context of a loosely integrated system because minor changes do not imply the overthrow of the entire system. The idea of gradual change relates to the possible interpretation of low integration in terms of the participants' developmental level regarding the issue of personal mortality. As young adults, many will not have arrived at a satisfactory resolution of this issue. Although the death-related construct system of a more mature adult might be more integrated once a satisfactory resolution has been reached regarding the issues surrounding personal death, premature integration in the young adult would preclude the gradual development and testing of new attempts to understand death. Prematurely integrating one's death-related constructs would also make evident the threatening implications of personal death before the person is adequately prepared to cope with these implications. The relationship betv;een positive death orientation and a loosely integrated death-related construct subsystem is understandable,

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100 therefore, in terms of the adaptability of moderate logical incompatibility and the need to continue the process of developing a more adequate system for anticipating personal mortality. The relationship between death orientation and optimal functioning was significant for the female participants, considered as a separate group, and for the males. In fact, an apparently greater proportion of the variance was explained when this relationship was examined separately for each sex, but different subsets of variables were important in determining the relationship. For the females, the important components of the relationship were similar to those discovered for the whole group, in that low death threat and low fear of the dying of self or the death of others were associated with high purpose in life and highly differentiated, but loosely integrated perspectives on death. For the males, low fear of the process of one's own dying and of the dying of others were linked to high purpose in life. The process and structural aspects of optimal functioning were not so important in this relationship. For young adult males, it appears that the salient aspects of death orientation, relative to optimal functioning, are the pain, weakness, vulnerability, and dependency that may be ' a part of the process of dying. To the extent that they feel able to deal with these aspects of the dying process in their own lives and in the lives of significant others, males may create for themselves a sense of living a meaningful life.

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101 Effectiveness of the Death-related Experiences There was no evidence that the tv/o death-related experiences had any impact on the death orientation or optimal functioning of the participants. Compared to the control group members, those who participated in the death-related treatments did not/ first of all, experience a reduction in death threat, fear of personal death and dying, or fear of the death and dying of others. A number of explanations could be offered for the lack of support of this hypothesis. One might wonder, for instance, about the sensitivity of the questionnaires to detect changes in death orientation. This does not seem to be the most likely explanation, however, given previous evidence that death education experiences result in changes in threat scores or at least one or tv/o EDS subscale scores. Secondly, a posttest immediately following the death-related experiences may have detected significant changes in death orientation. One would hope, however, that truly meaningful changes would last over a period much longer than seven weeks. Thirdly, previous studies on the effectiveness of death education experiences erp.ployed subjects v/ho had registered for a death education v/orkshop or course. Those subjects may be more prepared to change their death attitudes than were the participants in the present study, who volunteered in order to complete a course requirement. Another possibility is that other components of

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102 death education courses are more effective than the two experiences selected for this study. Perhaps the most reasonable explanation is that, while the obituary/biography and farev/ell letter experiences may be important components of death education workshops or courses, meaningful changes in attitudes as complex and stable as death orientation may require a more powerful intervention that extends over a longer period of time. A combination of components from death education workshops or courses may effectively produce changes in death orientation that cannot be achieved in an experience that lasts for only an hour. Participants could more easily ignore a brief experience than a workshop that lasts all day or, especially, a course that extends over a period of several months. In order to test the effectiveness of any component of more complex death education interventions, it might be necessary to ensure that the experience extend into the participants' daily lives after the treatment has ended. One could, for example, request each participant to spend a small amount of time every week revising the obituary or farewell letter and to turn in a copy of the revised form at posttest. Participants could also monitor their fulfillment of such a request, although it v/ould be difficult to control an extension of the death-related experience into their daily lives. The results of the study also failed to support the existential hypothesis concerning the effect of the two deathrelated experiences on optimal functioning. There was no evidence that those who participated in the death-related

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103 experiences, compared to the members of the control group, experienced an increase in purpose in life or any change in their level of differentiation and integration with respect to death. The apparent reduction in integration was not due to the treatments, but to initial differences in ordination and chi-square scores. The existential hypothesis may, in fact, be incorrect. Reduction in death threat and fear of death may have no impact on a person's overall level of psychological functioning. Or the differentiation and integration indices may have been more sensitive to change if they had been based on death-related personal constructs generated by each participant. A more reasonable alternative, however, is that the death-related experiences had no measurable impact on optimal functioning because they failed to reduce death threat and death fear. A test of the existential hypothesis depended on the effectiveness of the death-related experiences. In the absence of such effectiveness, it is difficult to draw any conclusions about the merits of the hypothesis regarding the impact on optimal functioning or improved death orientation. Strengths and Limitations of the Present Study This section will examine three strengths and three limitations of this investigation. One strength is the multidimensional conceptualization and operationalization of both death orientation and optimal functioning. Previous research identified a significant relationship between isolated death

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104 attitudes and several isolated features of healthy functioning. The present study, however, is the first demonstration of the usefulness of investigating the relationship between a set of death orientation variables and a set of optimal functioning variables . A second contribution of this study is the attempt to evaluate through an experimental design the effectiveness of selected components of more complex death education programs. With the exception of Kurlychek's study (1978b), evaluations of death education programs have studied the impact of a death education workshop or course on intact groups who registered for the program, compared to individuals v/ho did not register. Those who register for such a program, however, may differ in their attitudes from those who do not. Rainey and Epting (1977) and Tobacyk and Eckstein (1980) , for instance, discovered that registrants for death education courses had lower death threat before the course began. To determine with validity the effectiveness of death education experiences, it is important to control such selection factors, perhaps through an experimental design. This experiment and Kurlychek's are unique in their attempt to evaluate death education using an experimental design. The present experiment is also unique in its attempt to identify the effectiveness of specific components of death education programs rather than the impact of a program as a whole. This approach is important if death educators are to learn precisely which interventions and experiences produce what sort of change in death attitudes. This approach will

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105 enable the selection of effective death-related experiences and the elimination of experiences which have a negative impact or no impact at all. A third strength of the study is the support for extending the Landfield indices and range of convenience scores to the realm of death and for the usefulness of these indices with provided constructs. Previous research with the Landfield indices exclusively used personal constructs in the interpersonal realm. The present study supported the extension of these differentiation and integration indices to other im.portant areas. Furthermore, contrary to a previous investigation of the Landfield indices v/ith provided constructs (Amerikaner, 1979) , the present study supported the use of these indices to assess the differentiation and integration processes when the participants are using provided dimensions. This success may be the result of the construction of the provided forms of the TI from the death-related constructs m.ost frequently generated by a large number of college-age adults similar to the population sampled in the present study. In addition to these strengths, the study also had some limitations. The most apparent limitation was the selection Ol two death-related experiences that apparently were not strong enough to affect death orientation in a measurable v/ay. As suggested previously, some way should have been found to extend the impact of the death-related experiences beyond the one hour in the lab room.

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106 A second limitation was the use of 30 provided constructs rather than allowing each participant to generate death-related dimensions that could be more meaningful. The use of provided constructs resulted in changes in the differentiation and integration indices from pretest to posttest, perhaps due to a process of personalizing the unfamiliar dimensions. A final limitation was the use of the Fear of Death subscales and the Landfield indices, which received only moderate reliability support from the data. The average pretest-posttest correlation for the four FDS subscales, first of all, was moderate (.55), apparently no higher than the average subscale intercorrelation (.51). Although one might expect a moderate interrelationship between these four aspects of orientation to death and dying, one would also hope for greater stability of the subscale scores. The Collett-Lester FDS would be a more useful multidimensional measure of death orientation if the reliability of the subscales were improved, perhaps by increasing the number of subscale items. The results of the study also provided moderate support for the stability of both differentiation indices (for ROC, r ^ .60; for FIC, r = .52) and for one of the two integration indices (for chi-square, r = .65), but no support for the stability of total ordination scores. There was evidence that ordination scores were more stable when calculated for constructs only (£ = .46, £ < .01), without including the ordination scores for the death-related elements. One might anticipate that the Landfield indices v;ould have stronger

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107 reliability support than that indicated here and in previous studies (Crum, 1978; Landfield, 1971). Fransella and Bannister (1977) , on the other hand, maintained that index sensitivity to change is more important than stability. Personal construct theorists, they noted, are interested in ongoing processes such as differentiation and integration, rather than the trait-like, structural results of such processes. In the present study, there v/as evidence that the indices were sensitive to changes in both differentiation and integration. The FIC and ROC posttest scores of the control group participants were lower than their pretest scores (reduced differentiation) , while their posttest chi-square scores were lower (increased integration) . Although there was no indication of change in total ordination scores, there was evidence for an increase in ordination (elevated integration) using the ordination scores calculated for constructs only [t(30) = -2.21, p < .04]. A possible interpretation is that the participants were initially uncertain about how to use the unfamiliar provided dimensions to describe the death elements. The result was a series of isolated, independent constructs which tended to be applicable to only a few of the death-related elements. The process of completing the first set of ratings, however, resulted in some systematic changes. As the constructs became more familiar, they seem to have been applied in a more comprehensive manner, resulting in fewer independent constructs. Furthermore, the implications of the participants' own superordinate constructs apparently became more evident, resulting in a more integrated deathrelated subsystem at posttest. While this argument offers

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103 a possible explanation for the changes from pretest to posttest in differentiation and integration scores, it leaves unresolved the larger issue of the stability of the Landfield indices . On the other hand, the results provided strong support for the reliability of the TI and PIL. The Threat Index has proven to be a relatively reliable death orientation measure in previous studies (Rigdon et al., 1979). The present study is no exception, with strong support for the internal consistency (r = .90) and temporal stability (r = .73) of TI scores. Investigators in the area of death orientation can employ the TI, anticipating a reasonable level of reliability. The present investigation also supported the stability over at least seven weeks of scores on the Purpose in Life Test (r = .85). Together with the results of previous studies, the present results indicate that researchers in the area of optimal human functioning can employ the PIL with a fair degree of confidence in the questionnaire's reliability in assessing this content aspect of optimal functioning. Implications for Psychotherapy and for Future Research The three limitations of the study just described have implications for future research. In evaluating components of death education programs, future research should ensure that more powerful experiences are selected that extend into

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109 t?ie participants' lives. Fear of Death subscales should be designed to produce more stable scores. One would hope for a higher correlation between scores for fear of the death of others on tv/o occasions, for instance, and lower correlations between scores on subscales that assess different aspects of death orientation. Further research also is needed to improve the reliability of differentiation and' integration measures like the Landfield indices and to investigate systematically the possible effects of rating a set of elements in terms of provided or personally generated constructs. In the case of provided constructs, for instance, exposure to the constructs prior to the time for making the ratings might allow the participants to personalize the constructs and fit them into their own idiosyncratic systems before they make the initial ratings. Other implications can be drawn from the results of the study that were not predicted a priori. The more negative death orientation for females indicates the need to explore more systematically the basis for these differences. Are women genuinely more threatened and fearful regarding death, or is it merely more acceptable for them to be aware of and report these aspects of their approach to death? Further research is needed to explore this issue. Another post hoc analysis supported the relationship of stronger religious beliefs and practices with more positive death orientation. Although previous explorations of this relationship have resulted in conflicting conclusions (Lester,

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110 19o7b; Pollak, 1979) , the present study and others using the Threat Index (Rigdon et al., 1979) have suggested the usefulness of the TI for a more systematic exploration of religiosity and death orientation. A third post hoc analysis indicated marginal support for a more positive death orientation and, more specifically, lower death threat in individuals who had experienced a near-death experience when they genuinely believed they v;ould die. As m.ight be expected, those who have come close to an experience of personal mortality are more likely to viev? self and death as compatible (i.e., low death threat). This finding suggests that further research might profitably explore the impact of near-death experiences on death attitudes, whereas there was no evidence that the frequency with which one has experienced the death of relatives and friends is related to death attitudes . The broadest implications of the present study are the final two. The first concerns the implications for psychotherapy. An initial hope for this study was that it v/ould provide empirical support for the hypothesis developed by Rowe (1982) and supported by her clinical evidence. She reasoned that it is of central importance in psychotherapy to enable clients to come to terms v/ith the issues surrounding personal death and mortality in order to enable them to live a fuller, more meaningful life. No empirical support was found for this hypothesis, because the death-related experiences failed to affect either death orientation or optimal

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Ill functioning. Given the significant relationship between positive death orientation and optimal functioning, however, one might still hypothesize with Rowe and the existentialists that the basis for this relationship lies in coming to terms with personal mortality which, in turn, enables one to function at a more optimal level. In view of this possible interpretation of the significant relationship found in the present study, it is interesting to note that, whereas psychotherapy with females might profitably focus on a variety of aspects of death and dying, therapy with males might be more effective in helping to create a meaningful life if the focus were on coping with features often present in the process of one's own dying and the dying of others, such as the vulnerability and dependency mentioned earlier. A final broad implication of the present study concerns the importance of a multivariate approach to the study of both death orientation and optimal functioning. The significant relationship between the two appeared only when all the multidimensional operations for both death orientation and optimal functioning were considered. A multiple regression analysis, for instance, did not find evidence for a significant relationship between the optimal functioning variables and death threat, taken as a single measure of death orientation.. Nor did a multivariate analysis of the death orientation scores (TI scores and FDS subscale scores) find any effect for differentiation, integration, or the interaction between the two, considered apart from purpose in life. Furthermore, a multivariate

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112 analysis is needed to determine the effectiveness of death education experiences without capitalizing on chance. In the present situation, for instance, separate univariate analyses of covariance of the five death orientation and the five optimal functioning variables would have resulted in a significant interaction between treatment and participant sex for fear of the death of self, for FIC, and for ROC. The multivariate analyses of covariance, however, failed to find any consistent effects for the set of death orientation scores or for the set of optimal functioning scores. It would be questionable, therefore, to interpret the results of the univariate tests. The present study indicates the importance of a multidimensional conceptualization of death orientation and optimal functioning and the importance of using multivariate analytical procedures that consider the set of variables as a whole.

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APPENDIX A THE THP.EAT INDEX Identification Number On the following pages (front and back) is a list of dimensions, each made up of a pair of opposites^ For each dimension, please circle the nunnber which best describes how you view the event or ODject at the top of the page. Use the zero rating if neither description seems to apply or if you are not sure which description applies. On this first pags, the element to rate is: Myself caring 6 5

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114 Participantr> also rated the following elements on the same 30 dimensions: My Own death. (Think of your death as if it were to occur at this time in your life.) A terminal patient dies after months of unrelievable pain. Your grandmother dies in her sleep. Your father dies while trying to save another person from drowning. Your closest friend is killed in a plane crash. A member of the Polish Solidarity union is shot for refusing to obey martial law. Three children die when a tornado hits their elementary school. Y'ou run over and kill a young child. A convicted murderer is executed in the electric chair. President Reagan is assassinated. A divorced mother of two dies from a drug overdose. Final instructions after rating the 12 elements: On the first two pages, you rated myself and my own death . Please rr.-turn to those two pages only , and see if you used any zero ratings. If you had to make a rating on these dimensions and could not use the neutral zero rating, what would your second choice be? Please circle this second rating choice without erasing your zero rating. Please note: This second choLce is requested only for the zero ratings you made on the first two pages . Note . The format for the Threat Index is presented by Rigdon et al. , 1979.

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APPENDIX B THE COLLETT-LESTER FEAR OF DEATH SCALE Identification Number Here is a series of general statements. Yoa are to indicate how much you agree or disagree with them. Record your opinion in the blank space in front of each item according to the foUowing scale: i slight agreement -1 slight disagreement 2 moderate agreement -2 moderate disagreement 3 strong agreement -3 strong disagreement Read each item and decide quickly how you feel about it; then record the extent ot your agreement or disagreement. Pat down your first impression. Please answer every item. 1 I would avoid death at all costs. 2 I would experience a great loss if someone close to me died. 3 I woiud not feel anxious in the presence of someone I knew was dying. 4 The total isolation of death frightens me. 5 I am disturbed by the physical degeneration involved in a slow death. 6 I would not mind dying young. 7 I accept the death of others as the end of their life on earth. 3 I would not mind visiting a senile friend. 9 I would easily adjust after the death of someone close to me. 10 If I had a choice as to whether or not a friend should be informed he/she is dying, I would tell him/her. 11 I would avoid a friend who was dying. i2 Dying might be an interesting experience. 13 I would like to be able to communicate with the spirit of a friend who has died. 14 I view death as a release from earthly suffering. 15 The pain involved in dying frightens me. (Please turn to the other side.) 115

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116 16 I would want to know if a friend were dying. 17 I am disturbed by the shortness of life. 18 I would not mind having to identify the corpse of someone I knew. 19 I would never get over the death of someone close to n^e. 20 The feeling that I might be missing out on so much after I die ~ bothers me. 21 I do not think of dead people as having an existence of some kind. 22 I would feel uneasy if someone talked to me about the approaching ~ death of a common friend, 23 Not knowing what it feels like to be dead does not bother me. 24 If I had a fatal disease, I would like to be told. 25. I would visit a friend on his/her deathbed. 26 The idea of never thinking or experiencing again after I die does ~ not bothir me. 27 If someone close to me died I would miss him/her very much. 28 I am not disturbed by death being the end of life as I know it. 29 I would feel anxious if someone who was dying talked to me about it. 30 The intellectual degeneration of old age disturbs me. 31 If a friend were dying I would not want to be told. 32 I could not accept the finality of the death of a friend. 33 It would upset me to have to see someone who was dead. 34 If I knew a friend were dying, I would not know what to say to him/her. 35 I would not like to see the physical degeneration of a friend who was dying. 36 I am disturbed by the thought that my abilities will be limited while I lie dying. Note. The ite^-ns are listed by Lester, 1974.

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APPENDIX C THE PERSONAL DATA QUESTIO>INAIRE Identification Number Age Race Sex: male female Academic classification: Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior What is your religious denominational preference? Catholic Protestant Atheist Jewish ^Agnostic Other (Which? I am a member of a church. yes no I consider myself (please circle one): 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 extremely moderately inactive devout devout There is a life /existence after death. strongly agree strongly disagree moderately agree moderately disagree ^slightly agree slightly disagree no opinion How often do you attend church and/or religious services? more than once a week several times a year once a week once or twice a year 2 or 3 tinnes a month never about once a month How frequently do you say grace at meals? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 regularly frequently sometin^es rarely never How much tinne during the week would you say you spend reading the Bible and/or other religious literature? three or more hours occasionally; not regularly two hoars never 15 minutes to two hours Have you ever had a "close brush" with death when you genuinely believed you were going to die? yes no If yes, when? 19 What was the experience ? illness accident attempted suicide crinne victim other (explain: ) (over to the other side, please) 117

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118 Have you ever such as (chec experienced-the deaih o£ a friend/relative you were close to, k as many as apply to you): mother father spouse/lover child sibliug friend other relative (How' Yes

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APPENDIX D PARTICIPANT INF0R?1ED CONSENT FOPJ^l Participant Informed Consent Project Title: Attitudes toward Lite and Death I agree to participate in the study described to me as loHows: Each group o£ participants will spend about an hour completing three questionnaires d'esigned to examine various thoughts and attitudes about life and death. Then the groups wiU participate in an experience (about one hour) designed to enable the participants to explore their attitudes either about death or about day-to-dav stressful events. .Alter two months, participants will take an hour to complete again the three questionnaires. The purpose of the study is to determine more precisely the relationship between beliefs about death and belieis about life. Anonymity of the participants will be protected. Participation in a study about death attitudes could result m some discomfort. It is possible, for instance, that completing the death-related questionnaires and participating m the death-related experiences might act as a reminder of the recent death of a friend or relative. Tuose who experience distress as a result of the study may contact the Crisis Center or the principal investigator (numbers below) for any help they might need. Furthermore, each participant is free to withdraw consent and to discontinue participation in the project at any time without prejudice. /» i. Potential benefits, on the other hand, include the opportunity to explore one's personal views and opinions about death and to participate in an e.-
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APPENDIX E OBITUARY/BIOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE Ob ituajry /Biography We can now move into an exercise centering around the theme of death. This is a topic with which many of us feel uncomfortable and one that we often deal with in passing in our life. We are each going to die, and whether that event comes soon or is very distant, the fact that it is always there in our futures profoundly affects us, though usually subtly and even unconsciously. The exercise which I propose we now begin will take about one hour of our time. During this period we will be guided in making our own individual explorations of what the phrase "my death" means to each of us personally, and we will have an opportunity to talk over what we discover — although no one will be forced to say anything he or she does not wish to, of course. Now I want to take a minute to give you a chance to raise any questions or express any feelings you may have about undertaking what we hope will be a genuinely involving and emotionally affecting experience. Let us now begin our experience of examining our lives in light of their eventual endings. You have been given paper and a pencil, and will now have a period of about 20 minutes. Imagine yourself as someone close to you, someone who knows you quite well. Imagine that it is your task to. write the obituary of the person who has just died, that person being you, your true self. Prepare about a one-page obituary. Say a bit about the life of the person, yourself, but mostly try to say something about the meaning of his cr her life. What did he or she do with the fact of having been alive? VJhat did it all add up to, as best you can say in a few words? After about 20 minutes, we will talk over what you discover. No one will be forced to share anything, and the obituary will be yours to keep; they will not be collected or read by anyone else. Are there any questions? . . . Alright, give it a try. (after about 20 minutes) Discussion, and a concluding suggestion to revise the obituary occasionally and perhaps to share it with someone to whom they are close. Note . Adapted from Bugental, 1973. 120

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121 My Obituary /Biography died today at the age of Your full name A native of , he/she died Your birthplace How? He/she is survived by Who in your family will survive you? Regarding his/her accomplishments and the real meaning of his/her life, it can be said: Please continue here and on the back, if necessary.

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APPENDIX F FAREWELL LETTER EXPERIENCE Farewell Letter We can now move into an exercise centering around the theme of death. This is a topic with which many of us feel uncomfortable and one that we often deal with in passing in our life. We are each going to die, and whether that event comes soon or is very distant, the fact that it is always there in our futures profoundly affects us, though usually subtly and even unconsciously. The exercise which I propose we now begin will take about one hour of our time. During this period we will be guided in making our own individual explorations of what the phrase "my death" means to each of us personalJ.y, and we will have an opportunity to talk over what we discover — although no one will be forced to say anything he or she does not wish to, of course. Now I want to take a minute to give you a chance to raise any questions or express any feelings you may have about undertaking what we hope will be a genuinely involving and emotionally affecting experience. Let us begin now our experience of examining our lives in light of their eventual endings. You have been given paper and a pencil, and will now have a period of about 20 minutes. I would like to invite you to spend that time writing what you might call a "farewell letter," a letter which says to someone you love the things you would like to say before you die. You might, for instance, write one of your parents or a close friend, or maybe your spouse or one of your children if you are married. Suppose you knew you did not have much time to live, and try to write down the things you would want to say. After about 20 minutes we will have time to share and discuss what you discover. No one v/ill be forced to say anything, and the letter will be yours to keep; they will not be collected or read by anyone else. Are there any questions? . . . Alright, give it a try. (after about 20 minutes) Discussion, and concluding suggestion to revise the letter occasionally and perhaps to share it with the person(s) to whom it is addressed. Note . Adapted from Bugental, 197 3, 122

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APPENDIX G STRESS I4ANAGEr4ENT EXPERIENCE To make the stress management experience comparable to the two death-related experiences, participants began by taking about 10 minutes to write their response to two questions : 1. What are some signs that tell you v/hen you or someone else is under stress? 2. How do you cope with stress? List some ways you manage to control your stress and prevent it from getting out of control. Participants' responses to these questions were used to identify the essential features of stress and the human response to stress. Handouts derived from Apgar and Callahan (1980) were used to identify a wide range of stressful situations, both positive and negative, and a variety of observable indicators of stress. Next, the participants discussed and briefly practiced deep muscle relaxation. The experience concluded with a discussion of a number of other stress management principles and techniques, follov/ing an outline suggested by Apgar and Callahan. 123

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REFERENCES Adams-Webber, J. Cognitive complexity and sociality. British J ournal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 1969, £, 21121 6 . Adams-Webber, J. Personal construct theory: Concepts and a pplications . New York: John VJiley & Sons, 1979. Alcorn, H. G. The relationship between death anxiety and selfesteem. (Doctoral dissertation. United States International University, 1976) . Dissertation Abstracts International 1977, 33, 1391B. (University Microfilms No. 77-16,403) Allport, G. Pattern and growth in personality . New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1961. Amerikaner, M. J. Personality integration and the theory of open systems: A cross subcultural approach. (Doctoral dissertation. University of Florida, 1978) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1979, 39, 6187B. (University Microfilms No. 7913246) Apgar, K. , & Callahan, B. N. Four one-day workshops . Boston: Resource Communications, Inc., 1980. Aronow, E., Rauchway, A., Peller, M. , & DeVito, A. The value of the self in relation to fear of death. Omega , 1980, 11, 37-44. Bell, B. D. The experimental manipulation of death attitudes: A preliminary investigation. Omega , 1975, 6_, 199-205. Blazer, J. A. The relationship between meaning in life and fear of death. Psychology , 1973, 10^, 72-73. Bolt, M. Purpose in life and death concern. Journal of Genetic Psychology , 1978, 132, 159-160. Boyar, J. I. The construction and partial validation of a scale for the measurement of the fear of death. (Doctoral dissertation. The University of Rochester, 1964) . Dissertation Abstracts , 1964, 25^, 2041, (University Microfilms No. 64-9228). 124

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125 Braun, J. , & LaFaro, D. A further study of the fakability of the personal orientation inventory. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1969, 25^, 296-299. Bugental, J. F. T. Confronting the existential meaning of "my death" through group exercises. Interpersonal Develop ment , 1973, 4, 148-163. Carse, J. P. Death and existence: A conceptual history of human mortality . New York: John Wiley & Sons, 19 80. Casciani, J. M. The relationship between self concept and experimentally induced death anxiety. (Doctoral dissertation. United States International University, 1976). Dissertation Abstracts International , 1979, 39^, 5540B. (University Microfilms No. 7909525) Choron, J. Death and western thought . New York: Collier Books, 1963. Coan, R. W. The optimal personality: An empirical and theoretical analysis . New York: Columbia University Press, 1974. Coan, R. W. Hero, artist, sage, or saint . New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. Collett, L. , & Lester, D. The fear of death and the fear of dying. Journal of Psychology , 1969, 72^, 179-181. Crandall, J. E. , & Rasmussen, R. D. Purpose in life as related to specific values. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1975, 21, 483-485. Crockett, W. Cognitive complexity and impression formation. In B. Maher (Ed.), Progress in experimental personality research (Vol. 2). New York: Academic Press, 1965. Crum, J. L. A two process approach to cognitive complexity. (Doctoral dissertation. University of Florida, 1977) . D issertation Abstracts International , 1978, _39, 356B. (University Microfilms No. 7810938) Cruntbaugh, J. C. , & Maholick, L. T. Manual of instructions for the Purpose in Life Test . Munster, Indiana: Psychom.etric Affiliates, 1969. Curtis, M. J. The relationship between bimodal consciousness, meditation and two levels of death anxiety. (Doctoral dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology, 1980) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1980, 41, 23143. (University Microfilms No. 8027395)

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126 Dicks tein, L. S. Death concern: Measurement and correlates. Psych ological Reports , 1972, 30, 563-571. Diggory, J. C. Self-evaluation: Concepts and studies . New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1966. Diggory, J. C, & Rothman, D. Z. Values destroyed by death. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology , 1961, 63 , 205-210. Duke, E. H. Meaning in life and acceptance of death in terminally ill patients. (Doctoral dissertation. Northwestern University, 1977) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1978, 38_, 3874B. (University Microfilms No. 7732297) Durlak, J. A. Relationship between individual attitudes toward life and death. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 1972, 391, 463. Durlak, J. A. Relationship between attitudes toward life and death among elderly women. Developnental Psychology , 1973, 8_, 146. Durlak, J. A. Comparison between experiential and didactic methods of death education. Omega , 197 8, 9_, 57-66. Durlak, J. A., & Kass, R. A. Clarifying the measurement of death attitudes: A factor analytic evaluation of fifteen self-report death scales. Omeg a, 1981, 12, 129-141. Epting, F. R. , & Amerikaner, M. Optimal functioning: A personal construct approach. In A. W. Landfield & L. M. Leitner (Eds.), Personal construct psychology: Psycho therap y and personality . New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980. Epting, F. R. , & Suchman, D. I. Optimal functioning. In R. Corsini (Ed.), Wiley encyclopedia of psychology . New York: John Wiley & Sons, in press. Farley, G. An investigation of death and the sense of competence. (Doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1970) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1971, 3^, 7595B. (University Microfilms No. 71-10,371) Fast, I., & Pawl, J. H. The sense of being dead and of dying: Some perspectives. Journal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assessment , 1970, 3£, 190-193. Feifel, H., & Branscomb, A. B. VTho's afraid of death? Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 1973, 8]^, 282-288. Feifel, H., Freilich, J,, & Hermann, L. J. Death fear in dying heart and cancer patients. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1973, 17, 161-166.

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127 Feifel, H., & Hermann, L. J. Fear of death in the mentally illPsychological Reports , 1973, 32/ 931-938. Feifel, H. , & Jones, R. B. Perception of death as related to nearness to death. Proceedings of the 76th Annual Con vention of the American Psycho logical Association, 1968. 3, 545-546: Feldman, M., & Hersen, M. Attitudes tov/ard death in nightmare subjects. Journal o f Abnormal Psychology, 1967 72, 421-425. ~ ^ ^^ Frank 1, V. E. Man's search for meaning . New York: Washington Square Press, 1963. ' Fransella, F. , S Bannister, D. A manual for repertory grid technique . London: Academic Press, 1977. Garfield, C. A. Consciousness alterations and fear of death. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology , 1975, 7, 147-175. Goodman, L. M. Attitudes towards death in creative artists Omega , 1975, 6_, 345-356. Gray, J. G. The problem of death in modern philosophy. In N. A. Scott, Jr. (Ed.), The modern vision of death . Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press, 1967. Green, P. E. Analyzing multivariate data . Hinsdale, 111.: The Dryden Press, 1978. Randal, P. The relationship between subjective life expectancy, death anxiety and general anxiety. Journal of Clinical Psychology/ , 1969, 25^, 39-42. ~ Handal, P., & Rychlak, J. Curvilinearity between dream content and death anxiety and the relationship of death anxiety to repression-sensitization. Journal of Abnormal Psycholoqv, 1971, 77, 11-16. " ' ^ ^ Harvey, O. J. System structure, flexibility and creativity. In 0. J. Harvey (Ed.), Experience, structure, and adapt ability . New York: Springer Publishing Co., 1966. ^~ Hooper, T., & Spilka, B. Some meanings and correlates of future time and death among college students. Omeqa, 1970, 1, 49-56. ^Ilardi, R. L. , & May, W. T. A reliability study of Shostrom's Personal Orientation Inventory. Journal of Humani stic Psychology , 1968, 8, 68-72. ' ~ Jahoda, M. Current concepts of positive mental health . New York: Basic Books, 1958.

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128 Jeffers, F. C, Nichols, C. R. , & Eisdorfer, C. Attitudes of older persons to death. Journal of Gerontology , 1961, 16, 53-56. Jourard, S. M. Disclosing man to himself . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1968. Jourard, S. M. , & Landsman, T. Healthy personality: An approach from the viewpoint of humanistic psychology (4th Ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1980. Jung, C. Man and his symbols . New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1968. Kastenbaum, R. , & Aisenberg, R. The psychology of death . New York: Springer Publishing Co., 1972. Kelly, G. A. The psychology of personal constructs (2 vols) . Nev; York: Norton Publishing Co., 1955. Kelly, G. A. Suicide: The personal construct point of view. In N. L. Farberow & E. S. Shneidman (Eds.), The cry for help . New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. Kelly, G. A. A psychology of the optimal man. In A. W. Landfield & L. M. Leitner (Eds.), Personal construct psychology: Psychotherapy and personality . New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980. Klug, L. , & Boss, M. Factorial structure of the Death Concern Scale. Psychological Reports , 1976, 38^, 107-112. Koestenbaum, P. The vitality of death. Omega, 1971, 2, 253271. Krieger, S. R. , Epting, F. R. , & Hays, C. H. Validity and reliability of provided constructs in assessing death threat: A self-administered form. Omega , 1979, 10 , 87-95Krieger, S. R. , Epting, F. R. , & Leitner, L. M. Personal constructs, threat, and attitudes toward death. Omeg a, 1974, 5, 299-310. Kurlychek, R. T. Assessment of attitudes toward death and dying: A critical review of some available methods. Omega , 1978a, 9^, 34-47. Kurlychek, R. T. The evaluation and comparison of the effects of two methods of death education on participants' attitudes toward life and death. (Doctoral dissertation. University of Oregon, 1977) . Dissertation Abstracts In ternational , 1978b, 38./ 3368B. (University Microfilms No. 77-26,501)

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129 Landfield, A. W. Personal construct systems in psychotherapy . Chicago: Rand McHally, 1971. Landfield, A. W. A personal construct approach to suicidal behavior. In P. Slater (Ed.), Explorations of Intra personal Space (Vol. 1). New York: John VJiley & Sons, 1976. Landfield, A. W. Exploring socialization through the interpersonal transaction group. In P. Stringer & D. Bannister (Eds.), Constructs of sociality and individuality . New York: Academic Press, 1979. Landfield, A. W. A construction of fragmentation and unity. In J. C. Mancuso & J. R. Adams-V7ebber (Eds.), The con struing person . New York: Praeger Publishing Co., 1982. Landfield, A. W. , & Barr, M. Ordination: A new measure of concep t organization . Unpublished manuscript. University of Nebraska, 1975. Landfield, A. W. , Page, M. , Barrows, D. , Willis, W. , Lavelle, D., & Schmittdiel, C. Landf ield-Page trichotomous overlap ratio and new ordination program . Unpublished computer program, 1981. (Available from A. W. Landfield, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.) Landfield, A. W. , & Schmittdiel, C. The chi-square analysis: A continuing search for ordination . Paper presented at the 4th International Congress on Personal Construct Psychology, Brock University, Ontario, Canada, August 1981. Landsm.an, T. The humanizer. American Journal of OrthopsychiatrX, 1974, 44, 345-352. Leitner, L. , Landfield, A. W. , & Barr, M. Cognitive complexity: A reviev? and elaboration within personal construct theory . Unpublished manuscript. University of Nebraska, 1976. Lester, D. Fear of death in suicidal persons. Psychological Report s, 1957a, 20, 1077-1078. Lester, D, Experimental and correlational studies of the fear of death. Psychological Bulletin , 1967b, e7_, 27-36. Lester, D. The fear of death of those who have nightmares. J ournal of Psychology , 1968, 69, 245-247. Lester, D. Resentment and dependency in the suicidal individual." Journal of General Psychology , 1969, 3_1, 137-145. Lester, D. Attitudes toward death today and thirty-five years ago. Omega, 1971a, 2, 163-173.

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130 Lester, D. Attitudes toward death and suicide in a nondisturbed population. Psychological Reports , 1971b, 29, 386. Lester, D. The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale: A manual . Richard Stockton State College, 1974. (Mimeo) Lester, D., & Collett, L. Fear of death and self-ideal discrepancy. Archives of the Foundation of Thanatology , 1970, 21^, 130. Lester, D., & Schumacher, J. Schizophrenia and death concern. Jou rnal of Projective Techniques and Personality Assess meHt, 1969, 33^' 403-405.' Lucas, A. A comparative study of measures of general anxiety and death anxiety among three medical groups including patient and wife. Omega , 1974, 5^, 233-243. Maslow, A. H. Toward a psychology of being (2nd Ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1968. Moses, M. Considering death and dying: Affective correlates. {Doctoral dissertation. State University of New York at Buffalo, 1973) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1973, 3A, 877-878B. (University Microfilms No. 73-19,221) Murphy, G. Discussion. In H. Feifel, The meaning of death . New York: McGraw-Hill, 19 59. Murray, P. Death education and its effects on the death anxiety level of nurses. Psychological Reports , 1974, 35, 1250. Nagley, W. E. "Yet today," four existential interpretations concerning death. In F. M. Hetzler & A. H. Kutscher (Eds.), Philosophical aspects of thanatology . New York: MMS Information Corp., 1978. Neimeyer, R. A. , & Chapman, K. M. Self-ideal discrepancy and fear of death: The test of an existential hypothesis. Omega , 1980, 11, 233-240. Neimeyer, R. A., Dingemans , P. M. , & Epting, F. R. Convergent validity, situational stability and meaningfulness of the Threat Index. Omega , 1977, 8^, 251-265. Nelson, L. D., & Nelson, C. C. A factor analytic inquiry into the multidimensionality of death anxiety. Omega , 1975, 6, 171-178. Nogas, C, Schv/eitzer, K. , & Grumet, J. An investigation of death anxiety, sense of competence, and need for achievement. Omega, 1974, 5, 245-255.

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131 Oakland, J., Freed, F., Lovekin, A., Davis, J., & Camilleri, R. A critique of Shostrum's personality orientation inventory. Journal of Humanistic Psychology , 1978, 18_, 75-85. Olson, J. M. , & Partington, J. T. An integrative analysis of two cognitive models of interpersonal effectiveness. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 1977, 16, 13-14. Olson, R. G. Death. Omega , 1971, 2_, 273-285. Paris, J., & Goodstein, C. Responses to death and sex stimulus materials as a function of repression-sensitization. Psychological Reports , 1966, 19^, 1233-1291. Pearson, L. Selected bibliography on death and dying. In L. Pearson (Ed.), Death and dying . Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University Press, 1969. Pollak, J. M. Correlates of death anxiety: A review of empirical studies. Omega , 1979, IjO, 97-121. Rainey, L. C, & Epting, F. R. Death threat constructions in the student and the prudent. Omega, 1977, 8_, 19-28. Ray, J. J., & Najman, J. Death anxiety and death acceptance: A preliminary approach. Omega, 1974, 5^, 311-315. Rsker, G. T. The Purpose-in-Life Test in an inmate population: An empirical investigation. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1977, 33, 688-693. Reker, G. T., & Cousins, J. B. Factor structure, construct validity and reliability of the Seeking of Noetic Goals (SONG) and Purpose in Life (PIL) tests. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1979, 35^, 85-91. Rhudick, P. J., & Dibner, A. S. Age, personality, and health correlates of death concern in normal aged individuals. Journal of Gerontology , 1961, _16, 44-49. Rigdon, M. A. Levels of death fear: A factor analysis. Death Education , in press. Rigdon, M. A., & Epting, F. R. Re-clarifying the measurement of death attitudes. Omega, 1981, 12, 143-146. Rigdon, M. A., Epting, F. R. , Neimeyer, R. A., & Krieger, S. R. The Threat Index: A research report. Death Education , 1979, 3, 245-270. Rogers, C. On becoming a person . Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1961.

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132 Ro'we, D. The construction of life and death . New York: John VJiley & Sons, 1982. Santera, J. C. Bibliography of death and dying: A guide to doctoral dissertations of the 1970s (A-I) . Death Educa tion, 1980, 3, 415-423. Santora, J. C. Bibliography of death and dying: A guide to doctoral dissertations of the 1970s (J-Z) . Death Education , 1981, 4, 100-109. Schilder, P. The attitudes of murderers toward death. Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 1936, 3^^, 348-363. Sharpe, D. , & Viney, L. L. Weltanschauung and the Purposein-Life Test. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1973, 29, 489-491. Shostrom, E. Manual for the personality orientation inventory . San Diego: Educational and Industrial Testing Services, 1962. Simmons, D. D. Purpose-in-Lif e and the three aspects of valuing. Journal of Clinical Psychology , 1980, 36 , 921-922. Slote, M. A. Existentialism and the fear of dying. In J. Donnelly (Ed.), Language, mietaphysics , and death . New York: Fordham University Press, 1978. Smith, S. , & Leach, C. A hierarchical measure of cognitive complexity. British Journal of Psychology , 1972, 63 , 561-568. Sullivan, W. J. Effect of religious orientation, purpose in life, and locus of control on the death anxiety of college students. (Doctoral dissertation, Fordham University, 1977). Dissertation Abstracts International , 1977, 38.' 382B. (University Microfilms No. 77-14,912) Templer, D. The construction and validation of a death anxiety scale. Journal of General Psychology , 1970, 82^, 165-177. Templer, D. Death anxiety as related to depression and health of retired persons. Journal of Gerontology , 1971, 26 , 521-523. Templer, D. Death anxiety: Extraversion, neuroticism, and cigarette smoking. Omega , 1972, 3, 53-56. Templer, D., & Ruff, C. Death anxiety: Scale means, standard deviations, and embedding. Psychological Reports , 1971, 29, 173-174.

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133 Thomas, M. , & Seeman, J. Criterion measures for therapy outcome: A study in personality integration. Psychother apy; T heory, Research and Practice , 1971, 8, 26-30T — ~ Tobacyk, J., & Eckstein, D. Death threat and death concerns in the college student. Omega , 1980, Yl, 139-155. Tolor, A., & Reznikoff, M. Relation between insights, repression-sensitization, internal-external control, and death anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Psycholoqv. 1967, 72, 426-430. ^ ^ Vernon, G. M. Sociology of death; An analysis of deathrelated behavior . New York: The Ronald Press, 1970. Victor, H. R. Choice of the living will; Personality characteristics, death/dying attitudes, and locus of control orientation of signers and nonsigners; and the effects of the choice on death/dying attitudes. (Doctoral dissertation. Temple University, 1981) . Dissertation A bstracts International , 1981, 42^, 7923"; (University Microfilms No. 8115916) Warren, W. G. Personal construction of death and death education. Death Education , 1982, G, 17-28. Wass, H. Research and assessment of death attitudes. In H. V7ass, C. A. Corr, & R. A. Pacholski, with C. S. Forfar, Death education: An annotated resource guide (Vol. 2) . New York: Hemisphere Publishing Co. & McGraw-Hill International, in press. Wass, H., Corr, C. A. , & Pacholski, R. A., with Forfar, C. S. Death education; An annotated resource guide (Vol. 2) . New York: Hemisphere Publishing Co. & McGraw-Hill International, in press. Wass, H., Corr, C. A., Pacholski, R. A. , & Sanders, C. M. Death education: An annotated resource guide . New York: McGraw-Hill International, 19 80. Weisman, A. D. On dying and denying . New York: Behavioral Publications, 1972. '^' ^Comparative psychology of mental development . New York: International Universities Press, 1957. Wesch, J. Self-actualization and fear of death. (Doctoral dissertation. University of Tennessee, 1970). Dissertation Abstracts International , 1971, ^1/ 6270-627liB"; (University Microfilms No. 71-7692) Wexler, D. Self-actualization and cognitive processes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 1974, 42, 47-5n

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134 Wexler, J. R. Death threat, self-actualization and future-time orientation. (Doctoral dissertation, Memphis State University, 1978) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1978, 39^, 1507B. (University Microfilms No. 7815992) Whelan, W. M. , & Warren, W. M. A death awareness workshop: Theory, application and results. Omega , 1980, 11^, 61-71. Wilkins, G. G. Cognitive differentiation and integration processes: A dual application to a standard person perception task. (Doctoral dissertation. University of Florida, 1977) . Dissertation Abstracts International , 1978, 39, 405B. (University Microfilms No. 7811082)

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michael A. Rigdon was born on June 7, 1944, in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1962, he graduated from St. Vincent's College, a private high school in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1967 from St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri. In 1971, Michael received his master's degree in divinity from DeAndreis Seminary in Lemont, Illinois. He then studied in Europe for two years, receiving his License in Sacred Theology from St. Thomas University in Rome, Italy, in 1973. On November 1, 197 3, Michael married Imogene Stewart Rigdon, a psychiatric nurse who is currently an assistant professor with the College of Nursing at the University of Florida. In September, 1976, Michael entered the graduate program in psychology at the University of Florida, where he is specializing in personality and counseling psychology. Ha received his Master of Arts degree in 1979. 135

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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Franz/i<. tipping, cna^irman Pro:?essorXof Psych9aogy I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. C^TMCc-ti^ ^^'^^LiU^William J. Frgming /, r Assistant Professor of Psy(^hology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. r v '^^\
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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ...L Hannelore L. Wass Professor of Foundations of Education This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and v/as accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Aug. 1982 Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

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