Belief in life after death forms a key aspect of all major established religions, and even in individuals not overtly religious. These beliefs significantly influence their experiences and behaviours. Previous research has assessed afterlife beliefs in wider theoretical and empirical contexts including generic paranormal belief, religious beliefs, or belief in an afterlife as a coping mechanism against death anxiety. There are currently few measures directly examining individual differences in life after death beliefs. We designed the Survival Beliefs Questionnaire (SBQ) and assessed its psychometric properties in 297 adults. To assess its validity we also asked them to complete standard measures of paranormal and religious beliefs. The psychometric properties of our questionnaire were found to be excellent. There were significant positive correlations for scores on the SBQ with paranormal belief and religiosity, thus confirming its validity. In addition, the data revealed sex differences as females scored significantly higher than males on all three measures. A series of regressions (controlling for sex) were then conducted, initially with paranormal and religious questionnaires total scores, and then with their individual subscales. Total scores on both paranormal, and religious questionnaires made significant contributions to SBQ total score. When assessing the contribution of the subscales of the paranormal and religious scales, only the paranormal subscale of spiritualism made a significant contribution to SBQ scores. In sum, we have created a novel questionnaire to explore individual differences in life after death beliefs which can be used in future studies to assess socio-psychological characteristics and resulting behaviours associated with such beliefs.
|Journal of the Society for Psychical Research
|Published - 1 Apr 2019