Measuring Religious Identity: How Religious Centrality and Identity Salience Relate to Adolescent Behavior Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Morris, Sarah Margaret
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • Sociologists of religion and adolescence often employ questions about how important religion is to an individual (religious centrality) in order to indirectly measure the likelihood that an individual will act on a religious identity (religious identity salience). While measures of religious centrality are seemingly indirect measures of religious identity salience, identity theorists have shown that as components of identity, centrality and salience are conceptually and empirically distinct. Utilizing the National Study of Youth and Religion, I take this research in identity theory and place it in a religious context to explore how these two components of religious identity are empirically and substantively related, and how their relationship affects our assessment of the association between religious identity and behavior. Findings include: 1) measures of religious centrality are not sufficient as indirect measures of religious identity salience; 2) religious identity salience only partially mediates the relationship between religious centrality and behavior, contrary to popular assumption; and 3) these two components of religious identity interact such that adolescents who have both high levels of religious centrality and high levels of religious identity salience have significantly different likelihoods of participating in certain behaviors than adolescents who have high levels of only one or the other. Implications for future research on religious identity and behavior are discussed.
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  • Pearce, Lisa D.
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2013

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