Family, Peers, and Religious Communities in the Formation of Adolescent Religious Identity

Open Access
Porter, Nathaniel Douglas
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 18, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Roger Kent Finke, Thesis Advisor
  • Diane Helen Felmlee, Thesis Advisor
  • Derek Allen Kreager, Thesis Advisor
  • Religion
  • Identity
  • Social Networks
  • Adolescence
  • Social Psychology
  • Adolescent Development
This study outlines a network-based model of religious identity development and produces an initial test of the model using Add Health data on religion and high school friendship networks. Three longitudinal models (fixed and random effects and lagged dependent variable) are examined predicting change in subjective religious importance among high school students based on measures of individual religiosity, parental religiosity, friendship network position and friendship network attributes. Results are consistent with identity theory’s concepts of perceptual control and relative identity salience, and suggest that both the type and strength of friends’ religious beliefs and actions can play important roles in religious identity development during this crucial period of self-differentiation. Self and friend worship attendance and friend religious heterogeneity are found to be more predictive of later religious importance than youth group participation of self or friends. Additionally, a new approach using multiple imputation to minimize bias due to missing religiosity data in Add Health is discussed and implemented.