Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology

Faculty/School

Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Nicky Newton

Advisor Role

Supervisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Eileen Wood

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Tobias Krettenauer

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Abstract

The experience of death-related loss is almost universal, which makes it an important area of study. The experience of death-related loss can cause a re-evaluation of identity (Hibberd, 2013), but this has not been widely studied in emerging adults. The lack of research into bereavement experiences in emerging adulthood leaves many questions unanswered, in particular regarding identity. This is the case, despite identity consolidation being considered an important task of emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2006; Erikson, 1959). I examined the relationships between bereavement, identity and social support, using a sample of 98 university students, many of whom were White and female. The study was conducted online using both open ended and survey questions. I found that although more general bereavement measures were not related to identity and social support, social support from family and friends mediated the relationship between emotional closeness to the deceased and identity. No significant correlations were found, between the qualitative and quantitative measures of identity, or between qualitative identity and bereavement measures. Also, of interest was whether identity could predict elements of well-being beyond the predictive potential of other factors, such as social support, emotional closeness to the deceased, and race. Identity consolidation was predictive for five of the six subscales of identity which were measured, the exception being positive relations with others. Research focused on university students who have experienced bereavement increases knowledge of the impact of bereavement on this population and allows campus communities to improve support services for bereaved students. While limited by sample size and the variability in time since bereavement, this study provides a starting point for future research into bereavement, identity, and social support; for example, examining potential differences between those who have sought help compared with those who have not.

Convocation Year

2019

Convocation Season

Fall

Available for download on Thursday, July 16, 2020

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