Religious Commitment: An Interdependence Approach

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In 4 studies using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we applied interdependence theory-based concepts to understand individuals’ religious commitment, focusing on 4 distinct targets of commitment: God, denomination, community, and spiritual leader. We specifically examined which individuals were likely to persist in their religious organization membership and belief system, and which individuals were likely to convert. Results suggest our interdependence-based measures demonstrated both good reliability and predictive validity (Study 1). Religious commitment can be manipulated temporarily (Study 2) and also fluctuates over time naturally (Studies 3 and 4). Study 4 also found that our interdependence-based measures were better at predicting persistence and conversion than were other established measures of religious commitment. We close by suggesting how future research on religious commitment can be informed by the interdependence literature.

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