This chapter proposes a model to identify how religion can help individuals remain calm in the face of existential concerns. Adopting an emotion regulation perspective and focusing on the existential concern related to death awareness, we propose that there are two routes by which religion can promote effective coping with fear of death. One route is problem focused and has been studied extensively within the framework of terror management theory. In that route, fear of death leads to greater endorsement of beliefs consistent with religious worldviews, and these beliefs can indirectly decrease fear of death. Another route, which is yet to be fully explored in existential science, is emotion focused. Inasmuch as religion is associated with secondary control, religion increases the likelihood of engaging in emotion-focused coping. Furthermore, inasmuch as religion is associated with adaptive beliefs about emotion, clearly defined emotion goals, and effective emotion regulation strategies, religion increases the effectiveness of emotion-focused coping. By increasing the likelihood of engaging in emotion-focused coping and its potential effectiveness, religion can directly decrease fear of death. We review evidence for the model and discuss its broader implications for coping with existential concerns.
|Title of host publication
|The Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism
|Kenneth E. Vail III, Clay Routledge
|Number of pages
|Published - 1 Jan 2020
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- death awareness
- emotion regulation
- terror management