Development of a scale to measure death perspectives: Overcoming and participating

Eric Petty, Bert Hayslip, Daniela M. Caballero, Sharon Rae Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Kastenbaum and Aisenberg have suggested that persons can cope with the impact of death and dying by altering their understanding of what each means to them as well as by changing their behavioral responses to such experiences. The present study's purpose was to develop a reliable and valid measure to assess an individual's particular death perspective based on Kastenbaum and Aisenberg's distinctions between overcomers and participators. The Death Perspective Scale developed here assessed the extent to which individuals utilize either an overcoming or participating approach to (a) assigning meaning to dying and death and (b) behaviorally responding to deathrelated experiences. Based upon the data collected from 168 adults varying by age and gender, findings suggested that both overcoming and participating could be reliably assessed, correlated with measures of death anxiety and death attitudes, and varied reliably (p<.05) by age and gender, wherein such differences were for the most part consistent with predictions by Kastenbaum and Aisenberg espoused over 30 years ago. Findings here suggested that overcomers reported more fear of death and dying and were less accepting in this respect, while participators reported fewer death-related fears and were more accepting. Women and older adults were more participating, while men and younger adults were more overcoming, though such effects varied depending upon whether meaning versus response to death was considered. The consistency between the present findings and the predictions Kastenbaum and Aisenberg suggests that while person's orientations to death and dying seem to transcend sociocultural change, empirically based efforts to better understand how our death system impacts persons need to move forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-168
Number of pages23
JournalOmega (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Death anxiety
  • Death system
  • Overcoming
  • Participating
  • Terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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