Mortality salience and worldview defense: the effect of death awareness and self-esteem on multicultural counseling competence

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nathaniel N. Ivers (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jane Myers

Abstract: The purpose of this study, based on Terror Management Theory (TMT; Solomon et al., 1991) and Multicultural Counseling Competency literature, was to investigate a) how increased death awareness affects counselors' self evaluations of their MCCs, b) how self esteem moderates the effects of death reminders on counselors' self evaluations of their MCCs, and c) how demographic variables affect counselors' self evaluations of their MCCs following death reminders. 141 master's and doctoral level counseling students enrolled in a CACREP-accredited counseling program in the Southeast or Southwest regions of the United States were randomly assigned to either a death awareness group (experimental group) or a control group. Participants in the death awareness group experienced increased death awareness prior to completing the Multicultural Counseling Inventory (MCI; Sodowsky, 1994); and participants in the control group completed the MCI prior to experiencing increased death awareness. A one-way ANOVA was run to test the difference between groups. Results revealed that participants in the death awareness group self rated their MCCs (including the MCI Overall scale and the MCI Knowledge, MCI Skills, and MCI Relationship subscales) lower than did the control group. No differences between groups were revealed on the MCI Awareness subscale. A multiple regression using the general linear model was run to analyze the effects of conscious death fear on counseling students' perceived MCCs. Results indicated that death concern did not affect counseling students' self perceived MCCs. Also a series of linear regressions were run to understand the moderating effect of self esteem, multicultural training, and other demographic variables on counseling students' perceived MCCs follow increased death awareness. Results revealed that self esteem and multicultural training did not moderate the effect of increased death awareness on counseling students' self perceived MCCs. In partial support of the research hypotheses, results also revealed that, aside from graduate level (master's and doctoral students), demographic variables did not have a moderating effect on increased death awareness. This study is a first step in a research agenda aimed at understanding the effect of increased death awareness on counselors' competence in working with diverse clients. This study contributes to the MCC and TMT bodies of literature, particularly, the practical application of TMT, and to the training of multiculturally competent counselors. It is anticipated that, through this study and future studies, effective training strategies that reduce the negative effects of increased death awareness on counseling students' MCCs can be developed and implemented in counselor training programs. Of course, before that can be accomplished, more research is needed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Cultural Worldview, Death Awareness, Existential, Multicultural Counseling Competence, Self Esteem, Terror Management Theory
Counselors $x Attitudes.
Death $x Psychological Aspects.
Fear of death.
Cross cultural counseling.

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