UBC Theses and Dissertations
Identity and death : an empirical investigation Lavoie, Jim A.
A model based on Erikson's psychosocial approach was proposed for the development of an existential domain of identity - conceptualized as a component of ideological identity, and operationalized as a set of death attitudes corresponding to general identity themes. Paralleling Marcia's (1966) Identity Status constructs of exploration and commitment, these death attitudes reflected death contemplation and acceptance in a variety of contexts. A sample of 149 university undergraduates completed a questionnaire consisting of a number of scales representing these death attitudes, as well as a measure of identity status. A MANCOVA (controlling for religious involvement, bereavement, and age) indicated that individuals high in ideological commitment had significantly higher levels of certain types of death acceptance, and were more likely to view death as purposeful. A MANCOVA examining the effects of ideological exploration on variables associated with death contemplation was also conducted, but the multivariate effect was not significant. An exploratory ideological identity status MANCOVA indicated, however, that achievers may have a significantly more personal conception of death than diffusions. These results suggest that amongst young adult students, death ideology is relevant at least as a socially constructed (or foreclosed) form of identity.