Lay people’s conceptualizations regarding what determines fear of death

Abstract : We explored the determinants of fear of death from lay people’s perspective. Two hundred French participants aged 18–83 were presented with 48 realistic stories that depicted a terminally-ill older patient, and assessed the probable level of the patient’s fear of death in each case. The stories were composed according to a five within-subject factor design: (a) whether the person believes in God or not, (b) whether social support is available or not, (c) the level of the person’s life accomplishment (low, intermediate or high), (d) whether unresolved conflicts with family members still persist or not, and (e) whether the person’s end of life wishes will be respected or not. Three different positions were found. Nine percent of participants expressed a Not Much Fear position; their ratings were always low. Sixty-three percent expressed a Depends on Circumstances positions; their ratings predominantly varied as a function of two factors: respect of end of life wishes and unresolved conflicts with family members. Sixteen percent expressed a Fear Always Present position; their ratings were always high. This set of positions suggests that, among lay people, three rival conceptualizations of fear of death may exist: (a) fear of death is a myth, (b) fear of death is an overwhelming phenomenon, and (c) fear of death is an emotional but reasonable response to a more or less stressful situation.
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https://hal-univ-tlse2.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01926412
Contributor : Nicole Cantisano <>
Submitted on : Monday, November 19, 2018 - 11:20:42 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 1:16:13 AM

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Nicole Cantisano, Virginie Ferraud, María Teresa Muñoz Sastre, Etienne Mullet. Lay people’s conceptualizations regarding what determines fear of death. Current Psychology -New Brunswick-, Springer Verlag (Germany), 2018, ⟨10.1007/s12144-018-9916-5⟩. ⟨hal-01926412⟩

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