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An exploration of afterlife beliefs in religiously-and secularly-oriented adults

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One of the ways that religion helps individuals to find meaning and purpose in life is through the enrichment of the concept of an afterlife. Afterlife beliefs are more likely to be held by religious than non-religious individuals. However, research findings also suggest that even individuals that are self-characterised as non-religious, also endorse the continuation of several psychological states in the afterlife. The present study aimed to investigate whether secularly- and religiously-oriented individuals hold one, common representation about the afterlife or if more than one concepts of afterlife exist. One-hundred and seventy-five adults participated in the study (97 females). Participants were interviewed individually with a vignette and a questionnaire that explored the endorsement of perceptual, psychobiological and emotional capacities, desires, and communication aspects of a dead agent and to provide justification for their answers. Their level of religiosity was also assessed. All participants were Greeks and members of the Greek Orthodox Church. By applying a Two-Step Cluster Analysis, we identified four clusters/representations of the afterlife that range from the conception of death as the end of human existence to the conception of an afterlife where numerous human capacities continue to exist. Religious orientation related to the four conceptions in different ways.
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Keywords: beliefs in afterlife; death concept; end of the existence; religion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Education, University of Western Macedonia, Florina, Greece

Publication date: April 3, 2019

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