Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Date of Defense

8-5-2010

Graduate Advisor

Michael G. Griffin, Ph.D.

Co-Advisor

Samuel J. Marwit, Ph.D.

Committee

Tara Galovski, Ph.D.

John Chibnall, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between psychological coping, religious coping, and assumptive world views of parents of murdered children and parents of missing/returned children. The latter group refers to parents who had a missing child who was returned prior to participating in the study. A sample of 82 parents of murdered children and 14 parents of missing/returned children completed a series of self-report measures assessing grief, coping, and assumptive world views. Due to statistical power limitations in the missing/returned group, proposed hypotheses were examined using only data from parents of murdered children. The hypothesis that longer time since the event would be associated with lower levels of grief was supported. The hypotheses that higher levels of positive religious coping, task-oriented coping, and avoidant coping would be associated with lower levels of grief was not supported. The hypothesis that lower levels of emotion coping would be associated with lower levels of grief was supported. Regarding assumptive world views, the hypothesis that a stronger belief in the meaningfulness of the world would be associated with lower levels of grief was not supported for parents of murdered children, while hypotheses that stronger beliefs in the benevolence of the world and worthiness of the self would be associated with lower levels of grief were supported. Data from parents of missing/returned children were examined in a secondary analysis. Grief scores between parents of murdered children and parents of missing children were not significantly different. A significant difference in worthiness of the self was found between the two groups, such that parents of missing/returned children viewed themselves as more worthy than did parents of murdered children. Clinical implications and directions for future research are addressed.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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