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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

The use of death metaphors to understand personal meaning of death among Hong Kong Chinese undergraduates

Wing-Shan Cheung, Samuel M Y Ho
Death Studies 2004, 28 (1): 47-62
14969278
Many Chinese words are pictographic in nature and Chinese people often tend to use metaphorical expressions to communicate emotional feelings. The assessment of death images and metaphors provides a meaningful way of understanding personal perceptions of death among the Chinese. The purpose of this study was to establish an instrument to assess the death metaphors of Hong Kong Chinese for assessment and empirical research. Thirty death metaphor statements in Chinese were created from items of the Revised Death Fantasy Scale (RDFS; J. McLennan & C. A. Stewart, 1997) and a previous pilot study in Hong Kong (S. M. Y. Ho, 2001). The item pool was administered to 100 undergraduates together with the Templer's Death Anxiety Scale. Seven out of the 10 highest scored death metaphor statements were from the items that had been created for this study. Descriptive statistics of individual items suggested an interpersonal dimension of death perception that is not emphasized in Western literature. Factor analysis generated a 18-item Death Metaphors Scale (DMS) with 2 9-item subscales: the Positive Metaphors (f = .85) and the Negative Metaphors (f = .81). The scores of DMS subscales are significantly correlated with the Templer's Death Anxiety Scale but not with corresponding scores of the RDFS. The DMS was considered a potentially useful instrument to study death metaphors among Chinese.

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