Do reincarnation beliefs protect older adult Chinese Buddhists against personal death anxiety?

Ka Ying, Victoria HUI, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Peter G. COLEMAN, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

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The aim of this exploratory survey study was to develop and validate a Buddhist reincarnation beliefs scale and explore the relation between Buddhist reincarnation beliefs and personal death anxiety in 141 older adult Hong Kong Chinese Buddhists. Buddhist reincarnation beliefs were unrelated to personal death anxiety. This suggests that not all religious afterlife beliefs have death anxiety buffering power as proposed by Terror Management Theory, perhaps because Buddhists view reincarnation not as a solace but rather as a renewal of sufferings due to unwholesome karma. Future cross-religion comparison studies could investigate the efficacy of reincarnation beliefs as a personal death anxiety defense mechanism in a Hindu sample.