Finding Meaning in Nothingness: How Meaning Management Theory Relates to Death Acceptance in Nonreligious Individuals

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University of Alabama Libraries

There is a growing trend to focus on the positive rather than on the negative, anxiety-provoking outcomes associated with coping with death, and emerging evidence suggests meaning-related processes may be a primary factor involved in cultivating these positive outcomes. A particular gap in research is the need to explore how nonreligious individuals cope with death awareness, and how theoretical perspectives from this recent positive trend fit or fail to fit the expressed experience of these individuals. Specifically, the present study proposed to gather empirical evidence for the Meaning Management Theory (MMT; Wong, 2007), focusing on how this theoretical model accounted or failed to account for nonreligious participants’ experiences with death. A community-dwelling sample with representation from religiously affiliated and religiously unaffiliated was recruited via a crowd-sourcing platform to complete a battery of measures in this study. Model fit indices were analyzed, and researchers aimed to identify group differences on meaning-related processes in relation to death attitudes in these two groups. The results of this study offer some support for the utility of the Meaning Management Theory, particularly within a sample of nonreligious respondents. Though findings are largely inconclusive for examining group differences, the findings contribute to the literature on how nonreligious individuals cope with death. Lastly, these results could be used to inform future empirical investigations of the Meaning Management Theory and clinical practice by reflecting the importance of understanding the growth-oriented perspective as well as the negative outcomes associated with coping with death.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Atheist, death acceptance, Meaning Management Theory, nonreligious