Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. Wilbur H. Watson


This thesis is a study of the relationship between selected socio-demographic variables and the attitudes of rural elderly toward impending death. Sex, age, and religious group affiliation are examined to determine the extent to which these factors help to explain variations in attitudes toward death. The sample was comprised of 65 respondents: 31 males and 34 females, including 20 Catholics and 45 Protestants. All respondents were between the ages of 60-92.

The sample for this study is a subset of 234 Life History Interviews collected by Dr. Wilbur H. Watson (1978-80) in a larger study of older blacks in rural southeastern states focusing on "Informal Social Networks in Support of Elderly Blacks in the Black Belt of the United States." The Life History Interview was designed to facilitate the development of descriptive and explanatory data on personality development, changes in individual life styles, social roles, and community organization. This study limited its scope to data from two states: Mississippi and Louisiana. The following hypotheses were tested in this study:

1. There is a significant difference between males and females in attitudes toward death.

2. There is an inverse relationship between age and attitudes toward death.

3. Protestants have more positive attitudes toward death than Catholics.

To analyze these data, secondary analysis involving descriptive and inferential techniques were used.

The findings showed that there was no relationship between sex and attitude toward impending death. However, a significant inverse relationship was found between age and attitudes toward death. The findings also showed that Protestants had significantly more positive attitudes toward death than Catholics.

It was concluded that age and religious group affiliation have significant effects on attitudes toward impending death. However, there was no apparent relationship betweens sex and attitudes toward impending death.

Included in

Sociology Commons