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Omega (Westport). 2012;65(1):55-70.

Does superstition help? A study of the role of superstitions and death beliefs on death anxiety amongst Chinese undergraduates in Hong Kong.

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  • 1Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.


Past research has shown that traditional Chinese death beliefs, which mostly consisted of superstitious thoughts, are related to death anxiety. However, other studies have shown that superstitions may help people cope with uncertainty and, therefore, reduce uncertainty-induced anxiety. The role of superstitions, whether related to heightened death anxiety or reduced death anxiety, is unclear. This study attempted to address the knowledge gap by examining the relationships among superstitions and Chinese death beliefs on death anxiety in the Chinese context. One hundred twenty-four undergraduates in Hong Kong completed measures of superstition (R-PBS), death anxiety (MFODS), and Chinese death beliefs scale. Superstition was found to be predictor of death anxiety, as expected. With superstitions highly prevalent in Chinese societies, the study has practical implications in end-of-life care, bereavement support, and death education in the Chinese context.

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