The Role of Death Salience in the Relationships Among Trauma, Religiosity, and Wellbeing.
Morris Trainor, Zoe
The present study tested whether the relationship between trauma and religious change, and the subsequent effect of this change on wellbeing, depends on whether the trauma involves death. Using a large and population-representative longitudinal sample, participants’ religiosity at age 26 and 32 was measured, as was their exposure to a range of traumas (some involving death and some not) within the intervening years. Participants’ satisfaction with life was also measured at age 38. Experiencing a death related trauma (such as the death of a loved one), but not an equally traumatic event that did not involve death (such as divorce), increased private religious behaviours among those already practicing them, and increased the perceived value of religious ceremonies among those who previously saw little value in them. On the other hand, living through a death unrelated event led to less public religious involvement among those who were previously so inclined. Changes in religiosity following trauma did not predict wellbeing six years later, however. These results help to clarify the contradictory finding in the literature on trauma, religion, and wellbeing: not only does the type of trauma influence the nature of religious change, but it does so in different ways for religious and unreligious people, and for different dimensions of religiosity.
Advisor: Halberstadt, Jamin
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Trauma; Religion; Death salience; Wellbeing; Coping; Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Study; The Dunedin Study; Longitudinal data
Research Type: Thesis