Influences of Gender and Culture when Coping with Death: Expected versus Unexpected
Abstract: Death is very unpredictable. It can sneak up on a family when it is least expected but there can also be warning signs that time is running out. Losing a loved one is something everyone endures sometime during his or her lifetime. Whether the individual falls into a depression or hides their feelings from others about losing their loved one, as human beings we all experience death differently, although culture frequently influences our reactions to death. The purpose of this study was to determine if individuals who are either individualists or collectivists cope differently when death is unexpected vs. expected. Participants were asked to remember a time when someone close to them died and to indicate whether it was expected or unexpected. They then completed a standardized cultural orientation scale to measure individualism and collectivism, Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI) that measures depression, and a Coping Scale that we created. The results indicated that for both expected and unexpected deaths, collectivists showed better coping skills than individualists. No cultural differences were found on the measure of depression.
Roxanne Salinas* and Rachel Diaz
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