Personality and Social Integration Factors Distinguishing Nonreligious from Religious Groups: The Importance of Controlling for Attendance and Demographics

Archive for the Psychology of Religion 33 (2):205-228 (2011)
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Previous studies linking personality and social integration with religiosity conflate the weakly religious with the completely nonreligious, and religious belief with group membership, leading to spurious associations. The present study characterizes the growing nonreligious population by comparing church and secular group members on personality characteristics and social integration. Although church members were higher in Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and perceived social support, these differences were largely eliminated when controlling for demographics and group attendance. Secular group members were higher on Intellect/Openness. Many previously reported characteristics associated with religiosity are a function not of belief itself, but of strong convictions and group identification.



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