Cross Cultural Beliefs About the Afterlife

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  • Topic: AfterLife, Death, Life
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Cross Cultural Beliefs about The Afterlife.

Seminar in Individual Differences and Personality

Abstract

A study of American undergraduates indicated that the beliefs about the nature of life after death were quite complicated. A 41-item questionnaire produced 12 independent groups of beliefs. Belief in an internal locus of control and that one’s life is owned by God were associated with a more positive view of the afterlife, as was being Roman Catholic rather than Protestant. The most common beliefs were that one is reunited with family and friends, that the afterlife is comforting, that there is Heaven and that the transition is peaceful, all believed by more than 90 percent of the students.

The afterlife is an idea that the conscious or mind of a being continuous after physical death occurs. There are many different believes about how the afterlife will be and what effects that outcome. In many popular views, this continued existence often takes place in an immaterial or spiritual realm. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion. Deceased people are usually believed to go to a specific planet after death. Regardless of the lack of evidence that is typically believed to be determined by a God. This is based on their actions during physical life. In contrast, the term reincarnation refers to an afterlife in which only the “essence” of the being is preserved, and the “afterlife” is another life on Earth or possibly within the same universe.

Lester, Aldrige, Aspenberg, Boyle, Radsniak, and Waldron (2001-2002) based their research proposal on what Flynn and Kunkel (1987) found. Flynn and Kunkel (1987) used data from about one thousand respondents in the 1983 from a General Social Survey to analyze beliefs that the people had for life after death. They found three groups of beliefs. One is Otherworldly: life of peace, tranquility, paradise of pleasure and delight, loving intellectual communication, union with god and reunion with loved ones. Worldly Rewards: life of intense action like it is here on earth but a paradise of pleasure and delight. The third group was No Rewards: life without many earthly joys, a pale, shadowy sort of life, spiritually involving mind and not the body. The researchers found that the type of belief held about life-after-death was related to social class, financial status, and a history of trauma.

No recent studies were identified on this issue until Lester et al. (2001-2002). The designing of this study was made to explore and expand the beliefs that people held about life-after-death. They used a 21-item questionnaire of the concepts of the afterlife. In the first method the questionnaire was given to 50 students who were enrolled in social science undergraduate courses. The mean age was 23.8 years old and the participants were mainly white. In the first method nine factors ever extracted about beliefs about afterlife. There were three major findings from the research that was obtained. One was that 19.8 percent accounted for that the life is much like the life on earth. There is a good and an evil. Not everyone is equal and that there are material objects in the afterlife. 13.4 percent accounted for that the cause of death, rituals carried out for you, the physical and psychotically state at death has an effect on how the afterlife would be. Lastly 8.5 percent accounted for the belief that the afterlife is a specific place, there is a day of judgment, and there is eternal bliss and that that is the final destinations.

The second method was designed to enlarge properties, increase sample size and explore other personality correlates of beliefs, specifically belief on external locus of control. The research study consisted of 152 male and180 female participants who were undergraduate students from the same state college as the participants in the first method. The second method was expanded into a 41-item...
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