Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Harriet Hayes

Degree Award Date

Spring 2013


Personifications of Death, mass media, Psychology of Death




For millennia humans have been personifying Death in order for them to manage and humanize what is unknowable in their lives. This study sought to discover how sixteen Bridgewater College students personified Death, what attitudes concerning death they possessed, and how the mass media affected a student's death attitudes and personification of Death. Six personifications of Death were found in this study: the Macabre, Soul Guide, Gay Deceiver, Bully, Gentle Comforter, and Unemotional Observer. Predominantly the personifications were ascribed to be male, ageless, and taking a human form. However, differences were found compared to previous research. It was also discovered that all the participants viewed the media's depiction of death to be extremely violent, tragic, and dramatized. The level at which a student internalized the media's hyperreality seemed to affect how much they feared death, which lead to a more media influenced personification of Death.