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Friday, April 24th

Poster Number: 084

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

Adalaina Musheff, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

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.

Poster Number: 085

Religion, Mindfulness, and Resilience as Strategies to Cope With Anxiety


Kristen Watson, Winthrop University
Hailey Upton, Winthrop University
Sara Warner, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor: Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

This study examined mindfulness, resilience, and anxiety in adults adhering to either traditional or progressive, more flexible, faith beliefs. Participants (n = 98) were college students (64% Caucasian; 85% women) with a mean age of 21.78 (SD = 5.44). Twenty-nine percent had previously received a diagnosis of anxiety. Participants responded to the following scales: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being, Mindfulness Attention Awareness, Spiritual Experience Index, and Brief Resilience. Additionally, participants were asked about their level of agreement with religious tenants in order to categorize participants as having traditional, progressive, or non-differentiated religious beliefs. It was found that mindfulness and resilience emerged as better predictors of anxiety level than did religion. Contradicting the hypothesis, higher mindfulness did not predict lower anxiety; instead, lower anxiety related to lower mindfulness and higher resilience. Perhaps a mindful, or intentional, focus on daily experiences increased anxiety in anxious people, and the current sample of college students reported high levels of anxiety. Traditionally religious college students reported using religion to cope with stress; however, they were no more or less anxious than other students. This study also found that adults who agreed with liberal theology looked more like non-religious than conservatively religious adults in terms of religion’s impact on their lives. These findings emphasize the fact that adults who consider themselves to be religious are not a homogeneous group and that the trait of resilience might be a more consistent buffer against anxiety than is mindfulness or religion.

Poster Number: 086

Story of Conversion: Why People Choose to Change Religions

Kathryn Priddy, Winthrop University

It is not uncommon for individuals to have and maintain their childhood religions throughout their lives. For many individuals, it is unfathomable to even consider leaving. However, this sentiment is not universal, as there are some people who choose to leave their childhood religion for another. The idea that someone can change from their childhood religion to another can be distressing for those who stay within their childhood religion and brings up the question as to why anyone would ever consider it. Recent scholarship suggests that there are different factors that can contribute to or dissuade conversion among people of various religious groups. In particular, four types of stress involving community, intellect, emotions, and spirituality seem to be of great importance and can be vital factors when one chooses to switch religions.

Poster Number: 087

Ethics in the Global Village

Ashley Holbert

Faculty Mentor: William Schulte, Ph.D.

Technological progress and far-reaching access to information have made media writer Marshall McLuhan’s prophesy of a global village a reality, but these advancements have introduced tremendous ethical complications to the field of international reporting. Mass media practitioners with the greatest reach are given the responsibility of interpreting natural disasters, human rights atrocities, soccer games and scenes of war on a global stage, as the world gathers around their televisions or smartphones to watch. Disparities in media coverage and a lack of native context leave a fractional picture of life beyond the reach of the Western world, and reporters in offices scattered across London and New York serve as the gatekeepers to information about countries they have never visited. The methods used to examine this issue in the following research included a comprehensive literature review focused on global media ethics and a textual analysis of three years of international news coverage regarding the country of South Sudan as reported by the New York Times. The research uncovered that sources local to South Sudan were used only a third of the time, and Western experts and reports dominated exponentially more space in the majority of articles. Additionally, reporters writing from South Sudan were far more likely to include local sources in their narratives than reporters located in Western cities across the globe. The purpose of this report is to emphasize the need for cosmopolitan journalism and greater local representation in the global news cycle.

Poster Number: 088

Do Nonhuman Animals Have the Capacity for Ethics and Morals?

Breanna Walden, Winthrop University

Ethics and morals are subjective concepts and are based on the values that individuals hold within society. Ethics is the entirety of one’s sense of self and place within the society based on the values and rules of conduct by which one lives. Morals are the universal and inviolable rules in any society. These terms are often used synonymously; however, they are not the same, and the distinction is important. Ethics and morals are able to change depending on the context in which they are being used, such as different cultures, countries, or groups. Some ethologists believe there is no biological basis for morals and ethics, and this led to the idea that nonhuman animals do not have ethics or morals. In this paper, it is argued that nonhuman animals do demonstrate morals and ethics. Key moral and ethical concepts found in most human cultures, such as altruism, community concern, conflict resolution, consolation, empathy, reciprocity, and sympathy have also been shown within nonhuman animals, and this argues for the presence of moral and ethical systems in those species, as well.