Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kral, M.

Keywords

Psychology, Personality.

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Many factors have been identified that affect the nature and/or intensity of a bereaved persons grief reactions after the death of a known other. One such factor, the "personality" of the bereaved individual, has been implicated in many of the prominent theories of grief and mourning. However, despite the intuitive connection between personality and grief, and the ample theoretical consideration give to this relationship, little systematic research yet exists which elucidates the role of the bereaved person's personality traits as co-determinants of their experienced grief. In order to investigate the relationship between personality, conceptualized in trait terms, and grief experiences following the death of a known other, a between-subjects correlational design was employed. College students ( N = 170) who were bereaved within the past three years completed a questionnaire package consisting of the Grief Experience Inventory (GEI; Sanders, Mauger, & Strong, 1985), the Grief Experience Questionnaire (GEQ; Barrett & Scott, 1989), an expanded version of the NEO - Five Factor Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992), the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire 4 + (Hyler, 1994), and a series of questions assessing additional aspects of grief and circumstances surrounding the loss. A principal components analysis of the scales of the GEI and GEQ yielded a threecomponent solution (i.e., internalized distress reactions, stigmatized grief, and existential anxiety). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses on these grief components indicated that both normal-range personality traits (i.e., neuroticism and agreeableness) and "pathological" personality styles (i.e., borderline, schizoid, and narcissistic) were significant predictors of grief. Additional variables that demonstrated significant associations with the grief dimensions were (a) closeness of the relationship, (b) the "impactfulness" of the loss, (c) sex of respondent, (d) respondent obtaining professional help after the death, and (e) respondent belief that they could have prevented the death. These results underscore the notion that grief is a multidimensional and multidetermined entity, and that personality traits are but one of the multitude of factors that may interact in complex ways to affect the grief experience. Results also suggest that person factors be more fully considered in future research attempts to explicate the factors that operate to shape adaptation after important loss events. When working clinically to assist bereaved persons, the assessment of premorbid personality functioning will add important knowledge to assist in the process of case conceptualization, treatment planning, and/or service provision.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1999 .B345. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 61-09, Section: B, page: 5040. Adviser: Michael J. Kral. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1999.

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