Changes in Religiosity Across the Transition to Young Adulthood
- 1.3k Downloads
Social identities, as those pertaining to religion, may change over time as adolescents make the important transition into young adulthood. This 4-year longitudinal study examined developmental changes in religious affiliation, identity, and participation across the transition from adolescence to young adulthood among 584 individuals (from M age = 17.9 years to M age = 22.1 years; 55 % female). We also investigated whether changes varied as a function of individual (i.e., gender and ethnicity) and contextual (i.e., college type and residential status) factors, as well as the association between religiosity and well-being (e.g., meaning and purpose in life, depressive symptoms). The results indicated a significant decline in reported affiliation with a particular religious group or faith for all youth. The change in a psychological sense of religious identity varied by gender, and the change in religious participation differed by ethnicity, but other individual-difference factors generally played minor roles in the changes in religiosity across time. Religiosity was more consistently linked with a greater sense of meaning and purpose than with fewer depressive symptoms across the transition to adulthood, suggesting that it may be particularly important for eudaimonic well-being. Overall, the findings suggest that youth generally experience a decrease in religiosity as they transition to young adulthood, but this rate of change may vary between individuals. The results have important implications for the way in which religion is viewed and lived out by young adults in the United States.
KeywordsReligiosity Young adulthood Psychological well-being Change
This research was supported by Russell Sage Foundation, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Grant Number DGE-0707424. We would like to thank the participating students and schools for their assistance with the project.
M.C. participated in the design and coordination of the study, performed the statistical analyses, participated in interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; K.T. participated in the conception of the study, participated in its design and coordination, participated in performing statistical analyses and the interpretation of the data, and helped draft the manuscript; A.F. conceived of, designed, and oversaw the study, participated in interpretation of the data, and helped draft the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
- Arnett, J. J. (2011). Emerging adulthood(s): The cultural psychology of a new life stage. In L. A. Jensen (Ed.), Bridging cultural and developmental approaches to psychology: New syntheses in theory, research, and policy (pp. 255–275). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Bock, W. E., Beeghley, L., & Mixon, A. J. (1983). Religion, socioeconomic status, and sexual morality: An application of reference group theory. The Sociological Quarterly, 24(4), 545–559. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4106024.
- Bryk, A. S., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1992). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Côté, J. E. (2009). Identity formation and self-development in adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (Vol. 1). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Davies, T. G., & Casey, K. (1999). Transfer student experiences: Comparing their academic and social lives at the community college and university. College Student Journal, 33(1), 60–71.Google Scholar
- Denham, S. A., Neal, K., & Bassett, H. H. (2004). “You hurt my feelings pretty bad”: Parents’ and children’s emotions as contributors to the development of forgiveness. Paper presented at the biennial Conference on Human Development, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Fuligni, A. J. (2011). Social identity, motivation, and well being among adolescents from Asian and Latin American backgrounds. In G. Carlo, N. J. Crockett & M. Carranza (Eds.), Health disparities in youth and families: Research and applications. Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 57, pp. 97–120). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
- Furrow, J. L., King, P. E., & White, K. (2004). Religion and positive youth development: Identity, meaning, and prosocial concerns. Applied Developmental Science, 8(1), 17–26. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0801_3.
- Goldscheider, F., & Goldscheider, C. (1994). Leaving and returning home in 20th century America. Population Bulletin, 48, 1–35.Google Scholar
- Juang, L., & Syed, M. (2008). Ethnic identity and spirituality. In R. M. Lerner, R. W. Roeser, & E. Phelps (Eds.), Positive youth development and spirituality: From theory to research (pp. 262–284). West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.Google Scholar
- King, P.E. (2003). The role of ideological, social, and spiritual contexts. Applied Developmental Science, 7(3), 197–204. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0703_11.
- King, P. E., & Boyatzis, C. J. (2004). Exploring adolescent spiritual and religious development: Current and future theoretical and empirical perspectives. Applied Developmental Science, 8(1), 2–6. doi: 10.1207/S1532480XADS0801_1.
- King, P. E., & Roeser, R. W. (2009). Religion and spirituality in adolescent development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 435–478). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- McCullough, M. E., Enders, C. K., Brion, S. L., & Jain, A. R. (2005). The varieties of religious development in adulthood: A longitudinal investigation of religion and rational choice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89(1), 78–89. doi: 10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nelson, L. J., Padilla-Walker, L. M., Carroll, J. S., Madsen, S. D., Barry, C. M., & Badger, S. (2007). ‘If you want me to treat you like an adult, start acting like one!’ Comparing the criteria that emerging adults and their parents have for adulthood. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(4), 665–674. doi: 10.1037/0893-3188.8.131.525.
- Pew Research Center. (2008). U.S. religious landscape survey. Retrieved from http://religions.pewforum.org/reports.
- Pew Research Center. (2010). Religion among the Millennials. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2010/02/17/religion-among-the-millennials/.
- Tanner, J. L., & Arnett, J. J. (2009). The emergence of 'emerging adulthood.' In A. Furlong (Ed.), Handbook of youth and young adulthood (pp. 39–45). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Yonker, J. E., Schnabelrauch, C. A., & DeHaan, L. G. (2012). The relationship between spirituality and religiosity on psychological outcomes in adolescents and emerging adults: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescence, 35(2), 299–314. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.08.010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar