Grief and mourning in cross-cultural perspective

HRAF Press New Haven Published In Pages: 231
By Rosenblatt, Paul C., Walsh, R. Patricia, Jackson, Douglas A.


This book investigates individual and group responses to death and the problems that death can create in a society. Several hypotheses regarding grief and mourning, as well as their variation with other societal variables, are supported with cross-cultural tests.

Hypotheses (12)

There are sex differences for emotion expressed by bereaved persons. Women cry significantly more frequently and average a higher frequency of self mutilation during bereavement than do men. But men were judged to have a significantly higher frequency of anger and aggression during bereavement than women (145, 146)Supported
"The more important the ritual specialists up to and including initial body disposal, the less the expression of anger and aggression [by the bereaved] during mourning" (39)Supported
"Where there was institutionalized anger and aggression, there would be marking and isolation of the bereaved" (39). Isolation correlated positively with the following measures of anger and aggression: widow attacks something or self; widower attacks something. Marking correlated positively with widow attacks self or somebody who is institutionalized target; parents attack something (152-153)Supported
Ritual specialists are more likely to be present in large scale societies with relatively permanent communities and in societies with rules for inheritance of real property. The importance of ritual specialists correlates negatively with temporary or permanent camp abandonment following a typical adult death (151)Supported
"Where levirate or sororate marriage is present, tie-breaking customs . . . which eliminate reminders of a deceased spouse during the bereavement period . . . are more likely to be present than where levirate of sororate remarriage is absent" (71, 68)Supported
"There is a stronger relationship between the percentages of remarriage by levirate or sororate and the practice of tie-breaking customs than between the percentages of remarriage not by levirate or sororate and the practice of tie-breaking customs" (71)Supported
"Where ghost fear is present, remarriage rates are great and the levirate and sororate are more likely to be present" (79)Supported
The degree of ghost fear is positively related to disposal of personal objects of the deceased and negatively related to a taboo on using the deceased's name. Otherwise ghost fear is unrelated to tie-breaking variables (160, 79)Supported
"Where final ceremonies [for deceased] were present prolonged grief was less likely to be present or frequent; where final ceremonies were absent prolonged grief was more likely to be present and frequent" (93)Supported
Final ceremonies are more likely to occur with longer duration of mourning (94)Not Supported
"In societies with final funeral ceremonies, grief after the end of mourning is less likely to occur, the heavier the attendance at the final ceremony" (94)Supported
Of 7 measured inducements to attend final ceremonies, only 2 are associated with attendance: holding ceremonies for more than one death at a time and sex liberties at final ceremonies. Both correlations are based on a small number of cases (95)Supported

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas Amelia Piazza