International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Wisdom, Religiosity, Purpose in Life, and Attitudes toward Death

Monika Ardelt


A major psychological task in old age is to come to terms with the finitude of life. This study tests the relationships between wisdom, religiosity, purpose in life, and attitudes toward death, using a sample of community dwelling 123 older adults <56+> living in North Central Florida. Wisdom was defined as a combination of cognitive, reflective, and affective personality qualities. Controlling for socioeconomic status, gender, race, and the other variables in the model, multivariate regression analyses show that wisdom has a negative effect on death anxiety and escape acceptance of death, and intrinsic religiosity has a positive effect on approach and escape acceptance of death. Extrinsic religiosity is positively related to fear of death, death avoidance, and neutral acceptance of death. Purpose in life is unrelated to attitudes toward death if wisdom is included in the model, but it is negatively related to fear of death and death avoidance if wisdom is excluded. Similarly, wisdom is negatively related to death avoidance if purpose in life is eliminated from the model.

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