Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Fred L. Adair


The purpose of this study was to develop and test a procedure to measure the effects of covert death anxiety on the physiological and affective responses of student nurses. The author also hoped to demonstrate the feasibility of the utilization of a personal computer as a tachistoscope for the purpose of presenting subliminal death stimuli; evaluate the use of heart rate change as a physiological measure and the State scale of the STAI as the affective measure of the momentary response to the death stimuli, with the Templer Death Anxiety Scale as the trait measure.;The subjects of the study were 44 student nurses enrolled in an associate degree program at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia. The overall design of this study was a counterbalanced two-treatment random assignment contrast group experimental paradigm.;It was hypothesized that (1) there would be a significant difference at the.05 level between the response to death word stimuli presented subliminally versus supraliminally as measured by heart rate changes and the State Anxiety Scale; and (2) there would be a significant correlation at the.05 level between the Templer Death Anxiety Scale and the heart rate change for the presentation of death stimuli.;Although the results were not significant at the.05 level, there was a large difference in the means of the two treatment groups (p {dollar}>{dollar}.07) for heart rate change. The large difference in the means of the two groups suggests that a study utilizing more potent death stimuli such as personalized death imagery or personalized death picture symbols may produce significant results for the procedure employed in the present study.



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