Fear of the dead, fear of death: is it biological or psychological?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The claim that aversion to dead bodies reflects a non-conscious response to objective physiological danger is thoroughly examined. No evidence is found for the idea that corpses are especially dangerous as potential sources of contamination. While reactions to dead bodies vary greatly among humans, depending on personal and cultural factors, fear of the dead is tied to the awareness of mortality. Humans react to the presence of death by transforming the dead, physically and psychologically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-337
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • death
  • fear
  • mortuary rites
  • pathogens
  • pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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