Event Title

Factors that Influence Young People’s Spiritual Beliefs during the Transition to Adulthood

Poster Number

084

Session Title

Religion and Philosophy

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

This study examined whether young adults perceived their faith to have changed since high school and what factors influenced the transition. Participants (n = 102) were adults (74% White and 81% women) with a mean age of 22.67 (SD = 6.99). Participants responded to an online survey to assess faith practices and Christianity beliefs. Questions were created to assess past and current ethical behaviors, motivation for church attendance, and social aspects of spiritual beliefs. It was anticipated that high school experiences would predict religious beliefs in young adults. This idea received some support. Adults who held conservative religious beliefs in their family of origin tended to maintain the beliefs, but not necessarily the religious behaviors. In fact, spiritual beliefs influenced later beliefs more than did early religious behavior or activities. Most of our participants indicated that their parents were the most influential people in determining their faith; however, those with conservative ideology were also more likely to agree that they relied on a spiritual mentor in high school who was not a parent. If adults perceived their parents as hypocritical, they felt it damaged their relationships with God. If adults perceived the church as hypocritical, they directly blamed God. In other words, adults equated the church with God but saw their parents as more of spiritual guides. These findings suggest that spirituality, which impacts young adults’ health and achievement, begins during the high school years, but also evolves, with progressive faith beliefs being more malleable than conservative faith beliefs.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Factors that Influence Young People’s Spiritual Beliefs during the Transition to Adulthood

This study examined whether young adults perceived their faith to have changed since high school and what factors influenced the transition. Participants (n = 102) were adults (74% White and 81% women) with a mean age of 22.67 (SD = 6.99). Participants responded to an online survey to assess faith practices and Christianity beliefs. Questions were created to assess past and current ethical behaviors, motivation for church attendance, and social aspects of spiritual beliefs. It was anticipated that high school experiences would predict religious beliefs in young adults. This idea received some support. Adults who held conservative religious beliefs in their family of origin tended to maintain the beliefs, but not necessarily the religious behaviors. In fact, spiritual beliefs influenced later beliefs more than did early religious behavior or activities. Most of our participants indicated that their parents were the most influential people in determining their faith; however, those with conservative ideology were also more likely to agree that they relied on a spiritual mentor in high school who was not a parent. If adults perceived their parents as hypocritical, they felt it damaged their relationships with God. If adults perceived the church as hypocritical, they directly blamed God. In other words, adults equated the church with God but saw their parents as more of spiritual guides. These findings suggest that spirituality, which impacts young adults’ health and achievement, begins during the high school years, but also evolves, with progressive faith beliefs being more malleable than conservative faith beliefs.