Understanding the Roles of Religiosity and Spirituality in Emerging Adults in the United States

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This study compared variable-centered and person-centered analyses to assess the prevalence and adaptiveness of patterns or religiosity and spirituality (R/S) among emerging adults. A sample of 9,495 college students (ages 18–25, Mage = 19.77) from the Multisite University Study of Identity and Culture (MUSIC; see Castillo & Schwartz, 2013) completed a cross-sectional online survey. Variable-centered analyses (creating groups using mean splits and comparing them on outcomes using ANOVA) found that individuals who were religious and spiritual fared the best in terms of psychosocial outcomes. Individuals who were spiritual but not religious and neither religious nor spiritual tended to have better outcomes than did those who were religious but not spiritual. Person-centered analyses (latent-profile analysis) identified 3 classes: low R/S, moderate R/S, and high R/S. Comparing the classes on distal outcomes revealed that high R/S individuals tended to have the best outcomes, followed by those with low R/S, while those with moderate R/S tended to fare the worst. The results illuminate not only the relative roles of religiosity and spirituality during emerging adulthood, but also provide a unique vantage point for comparing variable-centered and person-centered approaches in the study of religiosity and spirituality.

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