Date of Graduation
The present study investigated differences in the conceptualization of death among children and adults with and without mental retardation (MR). Thirty-five adults (17 adults without MR, 18 adults with MR) and 29 children (21 children without MR, 8 children with MR) participated in the study. The study employed a 2 x 2 design with Age and MR as the factors. Participants completed several questionnaires, cognitive developmental tasks, and intelligence assessments. Results indicated that diagnosis of mental retardation was slightly more influential than chronological age in determining participants' responses about death. This effect was evident for the Universality and Causality components of the death concept. Age and cognitive development predicted responses on the Universality component. There were several Age x MR interactions concerning emotional reactions to stories involving loss. Adults with mental retardation responded similarly to children without mental retardation for the stories describing loss. Several possible explanations for this finding are given. Adults with mental retardation may be socialized in a way that is similar to typical children. Another interpretation is that losses, such as those described in the questionnaires, may be most meaningful for adults with mental retardation and for children; thus they respond to the descriptions of loss similarly.
Levelle, Elizabeth Rooney, "Conceptual knowledge of a normative life event: The impact of intellectual ability, age, experience and attachment on the concept of death." (1997). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9284.