Evaluations of hypothetical bereavement and grief: The influence of loss recency, loss type and gender

Eric D. Miller
Published Online:
19 May 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 50 Issue 1

Additional Options

Individuals often hold strict and erroneous expectations for how others should grieve, yet this issue has been sparsely researched. A total of 161 undergraduates rated the appropriateness of various social and emotional behaviours of a hypothetical bereaved individual as a function of the recency of the death (1 month or 1 year ago), the nature of the loss (death of a spouse or child) and the gender of the bereaved. As expected, subjects deemed it inappropriate to show positive emotions and experiences 1 month after a hypothetical death and more inappropriate to show negative reactions 1 year later and there were generally higher expectations of socially appropriate behaviour for those who lost a child rather than a spouse. Unexpectedly, there were no significant differences regarding the gender of the bereaved. This study is among the first to show experimentally the widespread expectation that grief should be experienced early and be short‐lived.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science