Gender differences in death anxiety and religious orientation among US high school and college students

John D. Pierce, Adam B. Cohen, Jacqueline A. Chambers, Rachel M. Meade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Women report both a higher death anxiety and extrinsic religiosity than men, but it is unknown why. Research has not previously linked these findings. We provide two alternative theoretical models of causal links: (a) women's higher death anxiety promotes extrinsic religiosity or (b) women's higher extrinsic religiosity promotes greater death anxiety. High school and college students in the United States (118 young men and 257 young women) completed Templer's (1970) Death Anxiety Scale and the intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity subscales of Allport and Ross' (1967) Religious Orientation Scale. Women reported significantly higher levels of death anxiety and extrinsic religiosity. Gender differences in extrinsic religiosity were partially explainable by gender differences in death anxiety. Also, gender differences in death anxiety could partially be explained by gender differences in extrinsic religiosity. This provides future research with some direction in the link between gender, religious orientation, and death anxiety. It also underscores recent arguments that religious motivations vary between cultures and groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalMental Health, Religion and Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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