Table of Contents
The Death Anxiety Scale (DAS) measures an individual's attitudes toward death-related topics. Unlike some similar measures, Templer's DAS (1970) takes into account a wide range of experiences related to death.
- Concern about intellectual and personal emotional reactions to death
- Concern about physical change
- Awareness of and concern about the pas sage of time
- Concern about the pain and stress that can accompany illness and dying (Lonetto & Templer, 1986, p. 111)
Death anxiety, by providing a vital link be tween our perceptions of crises and how well we cope, may be an "integral part of the flow of life itself" (1986, p. 112). While the focus may be fourfold, Templer chose to construct an instrument with one score, expecting that refined perspectives on the fear of death could be developed after gross parameters were established.
The DAS is a 15-item, true/false scale that yields a single compos ite score. Six items are keyed false, nine true.
Although the DAS appears to have multiple factors contributing to its overall score, what these factors are and how these factors load onto the overall score is not well understood. Consequently, it is still unclear how the overall score should be interpreted.
The DAS re quires no special examiner skill to administer or score. Face validity of the measure is high. The DAS has been translated into Arabic, German, Spanish, Hindi, Chinese, Korean, Afrikaans, and Japanese.
Comprehensive representative norms have not been established. A number of means and standard deviations relative to specific populations have, however, been published (e.g., Templer & Ruff, 1971; Lonetto & Templer, 1986). Scores for these participants range from 4.5 to 7.0, with a standard deviation of slightly more than 3.0, and with females consistently scoring higher than males.
One cross-sectional study of 226 pre dominantly middle class, Caucasian, well educated individuals located throughout the United States will serve as an example (see White & Handal, 1991). The overall mean in this study was 6.16 (6.76 for males, 8.04 for females), with a standard deviation of 3.21 (2.82 for males, 3.27 for females). Some evidence suggests that DAS scores tend to decrease with age (Lonetto & Tem pler, 1986).
Three weeks after the first ad ministration, 31 community college participants completed the DAS a second time. The DAS evidenced a test-retest reliability correlation coefficient of .83. Reasonable internal consistency was demonstrated with a Kuder-Richardson reliability coefficient of .76.
Considerable validity data has been gathered on the DAS. Face validity was established by subjecting an original set of 40 items to the judgment of a clinical psychologist, two clinical psychology graduate students, and four chaplains in a state hospital. Nine items failed to evidence sufficient face validity and were therefore dropped from the scale.
Internal consistency was established by determining item-total score point biserial correlation coefficients for the 31 remaining items. Sixteen items failed to consistently reach statistical significance, leaving the 15 items that are found on the final version of the DAS.
Construct validity was addressed in two separate projects (Templer, 1970). In the first, DAS scores of 21 presumably high death-anxiety psychiatric patients were compared to those of a matched (diagnosis, sex, approximate age) set of control patients. The high-death-anxiety patients had a DAS mean of 11.62, while the control group had a mean of 6.77 (t = 5.78, p < .01), thereby offering supporting evidence of construct validity.
In the second project, the DAS, along with Boyar's Fear of Death Scale (FOOS; Boyar, 1964) and the MMPI, was adminis tered to 77 undergraduates. Correlation with the FOOS was .74, providing mutual evidence for the validity of both scales.
The MMPI was chosen because it contains three well-known anxiety scales, namely, the Manifest Anxiety Scale, the Welsh Anxiety Scale, and the Welsh Anxiety Index. If the DAS failed to correlate as highly with these scales as they do with one another, then it could be argued that the DAS is not measuring anxiety in general, but perhaps death anxiety specifically. Cor relations with these scales were measured at .39, .36, and . l 8 respectively. Although it is clear that some correlation is present be tween death anxiety and anxiety in general, the DAS's correlation with the FOOS was much higher than with these general mea sures of anxiety, providing support for the contention that Templer's DAS does possess discriminant validity, and it is not just an other measure of anxiety in general.
Templer's Death Anxiety Scale (DAS)
- T I am very much afraid to die.
- F The thought of death seldom enters my mind.
- F It doesn't make me nervous when people talk about death. T I dread to think about having to have an operation.
- F I am not at all afraid to die.
- F I am not particularly afraid of getting cancer. F The thought of death never bothers me.
- T I am often distressed by the way time flies so very rapidly. T I fear dying a painful death.
- T The subject of life after death troubles me greatly. T I am really scared of having a heart attack.
- T I often think about how short life really is.
- T I shudder when I hear people talking about a World War III. T The sight of a dead body is horrifying to me.
- F I feel that the future holds nothing for me to fear.
Lester, D., & Templer, D. I. (1993). Death anxiety scales: A dialogue. Omega, 26, 239-253.
McMordie, W. R. (1979). Improving measurement of death anxiety. Psychological Reports, 44, 975-980.
Templer, D. I., & Ruff, C. F. (1971). Death anxiety scale means, standard deviations, and embed ding. Psychological Reports, 29, 174--175.