Table of Contents
The Death Acceptance Scale is based on the theoretical idea that the oppo site of death anxiety (the construct that has received so much attention in death re search) could be either denial-rejecting and refusing to deal with death-or acceptance-coming to terms with death through thought and effort. Ray and Najman (1974) suggest that subjects scoring lowest on a measure of death anxiety may actually have the most anxiety, and are very successful death deniers "in the Freudian sense-people who do feel anxiety but cannot acknowledge it" (p. 312). A person who has come to terms with death, on the other hand, may willingly acknowledge some remnant of lingering anxiety.
The variable that this scale is intended to measure is death acceptance. Ray and Najman (1974) see a death-acceptant person as someone who "will not deny that [death] does concern them but will also be able to be positive about death" (p. 312).
The original scale is a 7-item Likert scale. All the items are written in the positive direction; agreement indicates a higher level of death acceptance. Ray and Najman (1974) do not include specific instructions regarding what Likert scale should be used. Several items on the scale (see appendix) are suggestive of reverse scored death anxiety items, and at least one item (item 5), because of its gender-exclusive wording, could be potentially difficult for female subjects to respond to.
The scale is short and standardized instructions used with typical Likert-type items would work. Scoring is simple and straightforward. The items lend themselves to being nested within a longer instrument.
The original re search using the Death Acceptance Scale (Ray & Najman, 1974) was a survey of 206 Australian first-year sociology students. The Death Acceptance Scale was part of a longer instrument including measures of death anxiety, achievement orientation, and authoritarianism. No average scores or any other sort of normative information were re ported.
Ray and Najman (1974) report a high level of item-total correlation, as well as a Cronbach's alpha of .58. Alphas of .70 were found by both Durlak and Kass (1981) with their sample of 350 college psychology students, and by Warren (1982) with his mixed sample of 76 subjects.
Ray and Najman (1974) report cor relations in the -.20s between the Death Acceptance Scale and two death anxiety mea sures (Templer, 1970; Sarnoff & Corwin, 1959). They also found that religious non believers scored significantly higher on death acceptance than religious believers. They did not explain how this distinction was made. Thus difference was not found for either of the death anxiety scales, and thus was interpreted as supporting the idea that death acceptance is an independent con struct from death anxiety.
Durlak and Kass (1981) included the Death Acceptance Scale, along with 15 other death-related scales, in a factor-ana lytic study of data from 350 college stu dents, approximately equal in gender and averaging 21 years of age. The Death Acceptance Scale loaded moderately and negatively on two of their five factors: Negative Evaluation of Personal Death and Negative Reaction to Pain. No independent acceptance factor emerged.
Warren (1982) studied a sample consisting of death involved subjects (e.g., funeral directors, etc.), at-risk subjects (sport parachutists and hang gliders), and control sub jects selected to match the age and education of the first two groups. They found that the Death Acceptance Scale was significantly and negatively correlated with measures of death fear, anxiety, and concern (r's -.23 to -.36). Subjects who identified them selves as accepting of death had higher Death Acceptance Scale scores than those who did not.
Two other pieces of research suggest modifications to or revisions of the Death Acceptance Scale. Klug and Sinha (1987) propose a two-factor conceptualization of death acceptance, confrontation of death (having accepted the idea of death, not dying, through conscious deliberation), and integration of death (a positive, emotional reaction to the idea of death). They used the Death Acceptance Scale as a basis to develop new scales for each of these constructs (the Klug Death Acceptance Scale is included as an appendix to the 1987 article). Both new scales were found to correlate in the .20s with the Death Acceptance Scale in a sample of 207 nursing students. Confrontation correlated -.19 and integration .23 with the DAS in a sample of 30 psychi atric patients. These two groups did not have significantly different scores on the DAS.
Ray and Najman (1987) propose a new balanced Death Attitude Scale, consisting of items from the Death Acceptance Scale, the Templer (1970) Death Anxiety Scale, and several new items. This new scale, scored in the direction of a more negative attitude to ward death, was correlated -.35 with a mea sure of social desirability, .45 with a modified version of the Taylor (1953) Manifest Anxiety Scale, and .20 with the Rosenberg (1965) Self-esteem Scale. Subjects in this study were 95 volunteers who returned a survey sent to a sample of 500 registered Australian voters.
Death Acceptance Scale
Please indicate the extent to which you agree with each of the following statements.
totally disagree 12 3 4 5 6 7 totally agree
- Since you only do it once, death should at least be interesting.
- I know that I have nothing to fear when I die.
- Death is not something terrible.
- Death is a friend.
- Death is a good thing because it leaves the way clear for younger men to have their chance.
- To fear pain makes sense, but death is merely a relief from pain.
- People who worry about death must have nothing better to do.