An Examination of the Relationship Between Religiosity
Social Self-Efficacy of an Individual
Senior Thesis Research by
Christopher Michael Shannon
Several studies have been conducted that have investigated various aspects of religiosity, specifically extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity. Other studies have focused on the effect religion has on various aspects of the personality. These studies have suggested that indeed religion does impact the personality characteristics of individuals. One aspect of the personality that has been investigated to some degree in this manner is the concept of social self-efficacy. A review of the literature has suggested that perhaps there is a relationship between these aspects of religiosity and social self-efficacy. Participants in this study were administered two self-report measures. The first measure known as the 20-item Age Universal I-E Scale, was employed in order to discover both the intrinsic as well as the extrinsic religiosity of the participants. The second measure that was given to the participants was a 31-item social self-efficacy scale, developed by Matsushima and Shiomi (2002). The hypothesis that those individual who scored highly on the religiosity measure would also score highly on the self-efficacy measure was not supported from the data collected. No significant interactions or correlations were discovered upon examination of the participants’ responses. The data suggest that perhaps a relationship does exist between these variables, however appropriate measures should be taken in order to determine the exact direction and strength of a possible correlation.
Key Words: extrinsic religiosity, intrinsic religiosity, social self-efficacy, self-report
In 1967 Allport and Ross
established a Religious Orientation Scale that measured religiosity of
individuals. Central to this questionnaire was the aspect of intrinsic
and extrinsic subscales pertaining to the particular subject. Prior
to this measurement device, religiosity was defined purely on the merit
of the church attendance of a person. This point of view began to
weaken however due to the realization that there were various other reasons
for persons to attend church. These reasons included socialization
or social pressure, or the desire to be a member of a group. There
began to be a distinguishing factor, therefore that was represented by
two different religiosity measurements. These new measurements were
classified as “good” religious orientation and “bad” religious orientation
(Allport & Ross, 1967). Allport and Ross (1967) defined “good”
orientation as an intrinsic belief in God as well as religion, while the
“bad” religious orientation was explained as an extrinsic orientation where
the person considered religion as a means to various social as well as
To be religious is defined as “Relating or devoted to the divine or that which is held to be of ultimate importance” (Merriam Webster, 590). In the following study however there will be several dimensions of religiosity that will be considered. Yamane (1999) directed a study that was interested in testing whether or not there is a connection between legislators’ faith and the contact they involve themselves in with religious groups (Yamane, 1999). The important aspect behind this study was the measurement of religion; more specifically the different components pertaining to religiosity. Under the definition of personal religiosity there were three sub-categories. They included church attendance, prayer and self-reported “importance of religion”. While these concepts may prove to be of great importance in the measurement of religiosity, there are a number of other studies that divide religiosity into more specific categories.
In a related study Granqvist (2000) assessed religiosity and the personal characteristics that are involved by examining the concept of religiosity to an even greater degree. The purpose of this assessment was to determine the relationship between religiosity, attachment behavior and relationship status of individuals. The sample for this particular study consisted of 156 students attending Uppsala University, Sweden. The measurement tool consisted of a questionnaire that explored sub-topics central to the study. Religiosity was separated into four different aspects. The first was religious activity, followed by individual relationship with God, emotional based religiosity and finally religious change in the individuals’ life (Granqvist, 2000). While the results of this study could very well be examined, the object at this point is to examine the varying measurements of religiosity that are explained to the subjects. There is one last inventory that is important in the study of religion and the sub-scales that are involved.
Hall and Edwards (2002) developed an inventory that has become valuable in the studying of religiosity as well as the various sub-divisions that this wide-ranging subject can be broken into (Hall & Edwards, 2002). In this case, religiosity is divided into two primary areas: quality of relationship with God, and awareness of God. This inventory, while divided into less main dimensions than the others, has been employed with great effectiveness in the recent measure of religiosity among all members of the population. The preceding studies show that indeed religiosity can be separated into multiple dimensions, however for the purpose of this study, religiosity will be defined under the constructs of extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity. Extrinsic religiosity refers to the external display of religious behavior, such as church attendance and reading of religious materials while intrinsic religiosity can be defined as the internal value that an individual places on religion.
Some research conducted recently was concerned with exploring the attachment to God construct. This research, while relevant holds important information with regard to the defining principles behind religiosity (Sim, 2003). The design for the experiment was comprised of four aspects regarding the attachment to God construct, these included: considering God as a safe haven, God as a secure base for exploration, seeking/maintaining proximity to God and responding to separation from God. The population for the study was students in Singapore, ages 17-24. This measure was examined in terms of internal properties and displayed reliable item and scale characteristics. Results of the study indicated that God attachment was individual to the student, and was separate from religious belief and practice. It was also interesting to note that attachment to God was found to be distinguished from attachment to the students’ mother and father. The results of this study were of interest due to comparison to findings in various other studies that positively correlated religiosity to the thoughts and beliefs of the parents of a student. Recognizing that religiosity and attachment are separate in their definitions, it is interesting that one’s attachment to God is considered to be of such separate nature from the practices of the parents of the individual. Also of interest are the varying degrees that attachment styles were separated by the researcher, an important concept in the development of a scale of religiosity.
A related study Iisager (1949) was interested in the concept of religious attitudes and thoughts. Specifically, the researcher conducted an analysis of questionnaires that were completed by 35 men and 41 women. The study was interested in the factors influencing the formation as well as the change of political and religious attitudes. The volunteers were Danish college students ranging in age from 17-22. Iisager (1949) analyzed the development of these individuals’ political and religious concept and discovered important results. The participants in the study included 35 men and 41 women who were administered questionnaires regarding development of political and religious attitudes. The research found that women were more likely than men to reason with regards to their religious attitudes; he also found that women’s religious attitudes were not as weak as those of men. The most significant aspect however, was concerned with the issue that women were found to have been influenced more by their parents in both the political and religious avenues of their lives than had men. Ratings of women on questions regarding religiousness displayed higher scores than the ratings of men on the same measures. Men in the study were found to have been affected less by the thoughts and attitudes of their parents. Reason was found to have played a strong role in the formation of women’s religious development. This research would suggest that indeed religion is an influence in both the lives of men and women, with the effects being felt by the female population to a greater degree.
The concept of religion or religiosity and how it has an effect on the ideas and thoughts of an individual, particularly adolescences is valuable. Hilliard (1959) gathered data from responses of 220 later adolescents and discovered that these young adults tend to abandon the principle that God rewards the good and punishes the bad. He continued in his research to find that the majority of adolescents, in general believe in the principle that being religious can and should aid them in living a morally good life. The effect that religion has on these young people is valuable construct that has been determined as a result of Hilliard’s research. To what extent the subjects were exposed to a religious upbringing and how that upbringing affects the self-confidence of the individual is an important relationship to examine.
This subject of adolescent religious beliefs and how they are based on the family of the subject is a wide-ranging topic. Ozorak (1989) conducted research that was concerned with examining a social-cognitive model of change of adolescent religious beliefs. The subject pool that was employed included 390 freshmen, juniors and seniors in high school as well as 134 alumni. Employed in the study was a questionnaire constructed in order to assess family demographics, religious background, practices, beliefs, and experience, as well as existential questioning and closeness to family and peers. Parents’ religious affiliation as well as their religious practices’, were positively related to all aspects of religiosity among early as well as middle adolescents. However, in the college aged group, parents’ religious affiliation and practices were positively correlated to practices as well as the decreased likelihood of change in the college-age group. Ozorak (1989) also found evidence of peer influence with regard to religious doubt and changes of faith. One of the key aspects to this research was the finding that these adolescents, when released from the framework of the family life tended to lose a part of their relationships with their parents. This break from the family dependency was made apparent by the results showing that twenty-three percent of the total sample claimed a different religious affiliation than the one they were raised with. The results also indicated that this family reliance was now being replaced by the individual’s own independence, as well as a newfound reliance on the subjects’ peer group. This seeking of independence from parental influence can only be expected as an adolescent grows, however it does point to some important concepts. The study points out that young men and women are indeed influenced by religion, specifically with respect to the upbringing to which each individual was subjected.
This notion of individual background continues to be examined. Crawford (1998) conducted a study that was interested in the relationship between religious family background and ego identity found in late adolescence. The sample was comprised of 304 highly religious students from a Christian college. Overall results indicated high self-reported levels of commitment and conviction while leading very directed and purposeful lives characterized the subjects. This commitment at times is balanced and genuinely individual, preceded by personal search as well as introspective consideration of various commitments that they might have. Students considered their families to be highly religious and morally directed, organized and controlled. Crawford (1998) also discovered that expressiveness was relatively low in these family environments. This research supported the notion that these students lead well-balanced lives, with high regard for their commitments. Commitment and balance in many cases may lead to greater confidence as well as self-efficacy. It could very well be ascertained therefore that indeed these students, due to the religious background that they were exposed to in their formation years indeed aids the young adults in their social interactions.
While involved in social interactions, almost all individuals are susceptible to embarrassment. Embarrassment can be defined as the self-reported “…aversive state of abashment and chagrin that is associated with unwanted social predicaments” (Miller, 1995). It is this potential for embarrassment that in many ways determines the social self-efficacy of an individual. While the key causes of embarrassment are uncertain and up for debate, some theorists imply that it results when individuals regret certain actions they have engaged in while in front of an audience (Miller, 1995). It is important to realize that it is the self-presentation of an individual in front of a group that causes one to evaluate the impressions that the audience retains concerning the individual. When the individual believes that those involved with the social interaction have gained a poor interpretation of the actions of the individual than embarrassment may follow. It is the degree of this self-evaluation as well as the awareness of the actor that determines the degree to which the individual will feel embarrassed.
In one study 310 individuals supplied extensive self-reports of social skill, self-esteem, self-consciousness, fear of negative evaluation as well as negative affectivity in order to test various hypotheses (Miller, 1995). This study was concerned with testing propositions such as the relationship between shyness and embarrassment, as well as the theory that highly embarrassable individuals may lack some aspect of social skills. Factor analyses and regression showed that highly embarrassed individuals are more prone to be concerned with the appropriateness of behavior in social settings, and are in many circumstances more motivated to avoid rejection from others. Shyness in this study was shown to be predicted low social-skill as well as low social self-confidence. The concluding evidence of the study suggests that shyness is linked to the effectiveness of social behavior, while embarrassment is linked to the appropriateness of social behavior (Miller, 1995).
Social self-efficacy as well as confidence is of great importance in any situation where there is a potential audience who will approve of or disprove of certain behaviors. It is this link between shyness and social self-efficacy that is of interest and can be examined to a greater degree in other studies.
In another study 354 undergraduate students completed the Scale of Perceived Social Self-Efficacy. Results show a high degree of internal reliability in that not only was social self-efficacy related to social confidence, but was also shown to be related to shyness (Smith, 2000). The important aspect to this study was the correlation between social-self-efficacy and shyness, offering substantiation to the idea that shyness is a result of a lack of social self-confidence.
Regarding loneliness, perceived social support, lack of social confidence and creativity, Mahon (1999) conducted research with 35 male and 33 female 22-35 year olds who were asked to respond to a number of surveys. These included the Creativity Scale of the Adjective Checklist, Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Personal Resource Questionnaire Part II and the Lack of Social Self-confidence Subscale of the Interpersonal Dependency Inventory. Results of the research are important once again due to the establishment of the concept that social self-confidence plays an important role in the lives of individuals (Mahon, 1999). The study found significant inverse correlations between loneliness and creativity and again between scores measuring lack of social self-confidence and creativity. Also found was a significant positive correlation between scores on measures of creativity and perceived social support (Mahon, 1999).
While the preceding research concerning social self-confidence is not directly related to the question of social self-efficacy and religion, it is important to establish that social confidence plays a significant role in the attitudes and actions of individuals. It is also important to recall the earlier research discussed regarding the importance of religion in the lives of individuals and the thoughts and attitudes pertaining to the religiosity of an individual. Earlier research has suggested a relationship between this social confidence and religiosity, yet there is lack of specific testing between these two variables. These concepts are of great value and importance to individuals, and the possibility that there is a relationship between these constructs is indeed a vital concept in the name of scientific research.
This concept of confidence and self-efficacy continues to be a subject of research in a study conducted by Lifshitz and Glaubman (2002). The two researchers studied religious and secular students’ sense of self-efficacy and their attitudes toward the inclusion of students with intellectual disability and various other types of special needs. The subjects in the study were women between the ages of 20 and 24. The findings in the research showed that the religious students were more willing than non-religious students to consider the inclusion of students with disabilities as well as having a greater sense of self-efficacy regarding dealing with all types of disabilities. This research does indeed help support the idea that students who have a religious background or base will tend to display more confidence in a social situation. The shortcoming that can be observed however, is the fact that the entire population was female. However, this does not negate the findings that indeed, as we have observed in previous studies, religion does have an effect on the lives of young adults and in many cases may increase the confidence that these people employ in a social situation. Due to lack of specific research regarding religiosity and social self-efficacy one is unable to ascertain just how strong of a relationship exists between these variables. More research needs to be conducted in order to determine the strength and direction of this correlation.
The research that has been discussed has two main aspects. The first is the concept of religion, and the varying effect that this has on the lives of the persons involved. Earlier, discussion was held pertaining to the different sub-topics that religion holds for many people. Self-efficacy and social confidence is an issue that needs to be examined more fully as the two constructs are wide-ranging and important aspects to one’s life. Some people are extremely confident, while others are not. How a person discovers his or her own social self is a wide-ranging and highly debated topic. Identity development is an important aspect, as is the background of the individual. It can be predicted that the religious background affects the social self-efficacy of an individual. A number of articles have discussed these constructs, and the possible comparison that is involved. However, attention may now be turned to the issue of social confidence and what is involved in this side of the discussion. Family background is a significant factor in the creation of the identity of a person, and therefore relates to the religiosity of the family and the upbringing that is involved. The family creates an environment that ultimately has an effect on the young person for the rest of their lives. Whether or not individuals cling to every aspect of their upbringing or not is an interesting topic, however the development of these persons and how this upbringing relates to their social selves as well as religiosity is what truly should be examined.
Archer (1982) conducted a study that was interested in the identity development of adolescents. In this study, 80 female and 80 male participants in grades 6, 8, 10 as and 12 responded to a questionnaire. Archer (1982) found the identity achievement status increased significantly as the individual moved from grade to grade. Another important aspect to this study as it relates to the concept of religiosity was the finding that in the majority of instances these young people found identity achievement in relation to the religious sides of their lives. Therefore, these adolescents’ identity, as they grew was effected to a great degree by the presence of religion, and that indeed they found part of their personal identity achievement in this ever important avenue in their lives.
Identity development is an important aspect that should be examined to a greater degree. The relationship between this development and social confidence is an important issue to examine, as well as the relationship these concepts hold with religiosity. One recent study that addresses this issue was conducted by Junkin (2001). In this study Junkin (2001) was concerned with identity development in late adolescence and the relationship it holds with religious involvement. The sample that she employed was 206 freshmen volunteers selected from three Christian colleges in the Midwestern United States. The findings of the study indicated low positive correlations between achieved identity status and every religious variable of students that had a religious background in their childhood. However, in the group of individuals that did not have religious upbringings, and therefore converted to the Christian faith, there were no correlations between their identity status and the religious variables. The most significant aspect to the study was the finding of positive correlations between intrinsic motivation of the individual and all religious variables of the study. This finding showed the researcher that indeed multiple religious factors influence adolescent identity formation. This study strongly supports the notion that identity formation is effected by religious principles in the individuals’ upbringing as well as this person’s future.
These religious principles are central to the determination of a correlation between religiosity and social self-efficacy. Religious attitudes do indeed influence the identity of an individual, and perhaps have a relationship to the confidence that an individual displays when faced with a social situation. Due to lack of prior research however, it is difficult to determine if indeed this relationship exists, and if so how what the strength is of the relation. Kress (2000) discusses valuable information with regard to these variables.
The purpose of the study was to examine how religion and community psychology were related. There were a number of superfluous themes that were discussed; however the significant points remain. First, the study Kress (2000) determined that there is a noteworthy potential for issues of spirituality as well as religion to play a major role in how one might define themselves, as well as having an impact on broader issues of one’s identity. Secondly the author determined that variables that relate to religion have a positive correlation with a number of psychosocial outcomes. Finally, Kress (2000) finds that factors that are related to religious beliefs or observances are found to be relevant to problem behaviors, specifically to the promotion of healthy outcomes. This is a strong finding that not only is religion and identity developed, but also that in fact a religiously identifiable person has greater potential in the social context of solving a problem.
Another important study regarding a religious person examined personality variables, self-esteem and depression and a person’s perception of God. In this study 201 female and male participants, ages 22-60 completed the Religious Status Inventory, the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Self-Liking, Self-Competence Scale (Greenway, 2003). The results of the study are encouraging indeed. The Religious Status Inventory was broken down into three dependent variables: God Cares, God in Life and Negative Image of God. The results for females show that Self-liking positively predicted scores on all three God principles. For males, the studies showed a negative prediction between self-competence and Negative Image of God, while depression was positively predicted with the same image. Results of the study suggest that one’s inner depiction of God may interact with their personality, raising the belief that that how one perceives oneself may influence how one perceives God (Greenway, 2003). While the data obtained from this measurement are not significant, it does lend credibility to the suggestion that there is an interaction between religiosity and personality characteristics, in this case social confidence.
An interesting study was conducted in order to ascertain the relationship between religiosity and academic achievement. The participants in the study were high school seniors who yielded 295 usable questionnaires. The questions were taken from the Intrinsic and Extrinsic subscales of Allport’s Religious Orientation Scale as well as the Quest subscale of Batson’s Religious Life Inventory. The results of the questionnaires were then compared to the individual results of the respective students’ ACT’s as well as GPA and class rank. Using Pearson’s correlation coefficient and Spearman’s nonparametric rank correlation test were used in order to analyze correlations. Using an Analysis of Variance, researchers discovered that religiosity had a significant effect on these academic areas (Williams, 2002). Findings supported previous research that females are more religious than men, however average group scores for women were higher in all measures of academic accomplishment. Major patterns in the study indicated that there was a positive relationship between intrinsic religiosity and high academic achievement, however extrinsic religiousness was negatively related to academic achievement. This suggests that involving oneself in faith for practical reasons utilizes characteristics that are incompatible with academic achievement (Williams, 2002). The mixed results of the study show the need for further research regarding religiousness and academia. While this study is interested in varying characteristics of religiosity, and academic achievement, it once again suggests that continuing research in the field of religion and it’s effect on the human psyche is important and less explored than various other aspects of psychology.
The preceding studies have suggested a number of valuable relationships that have been examined by researchers and that are related to religiosity and social self-efficacy. First, prior research has established intrinsic and extrinsic subscales with which religiosity can be measured (Allport & Ross, 1967). It has also been established by Iisager (1949), that religion is an influence in both the lives of men and women. The exact strength and direction of this relationship however was not determined. Secondly, research by Hilliard (1959) has suggested that the majority of adolescents believe in the principle that being religious can and should aid them in living a morally good life. It has also been suggested that there is a relationship between the religious background of an individual, formed in their formation years, and the comfort of that individual in social situations (Crawford, 1998). The extent of this relationship however has not been determined. Greenway (2003) displayed results that supported the belief that religiosity and personality characteristics do indeed interact. While this does not raise the issue of social self-efficacy, it does show results that indeed personality and religiosity are related.
Lifshitz and Glaubman (2002) offered research that shows a relationship between the religiosity of students and the self-efficacy that these individuals display when faced with the inclusion of students with disabilities. This research perhaps is the most significant due to the fact that it suggests a possible relationship between religiousness and self-efficacy of individuals even when disabilities are not involved. The entire collection of data that has been presented offers valuable information indeed. First, it has been established that religion can be broken into many testable avenues, however in this case extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity will be the constructs studied. Secondly the research has suggested a link between religiousness and personality characteristics. Researchers have also established a possible correlation between comfort in social situations and higher scores of religiosity (Kress, 2000). Therefore, the collected data has established that indeed religiousness of an individual can be tested, as can that person’s social self-efficacy. It has also been shown that religion does indeed relate to personality characteristics. One area that has not been examined to such a degree however is the aspect of religion being correlated with self-efficacy. Prior research has not consistently studied these constructs together. Therefore it is the purpose of this study to attempt to determine whether indeed there is a relationship between these variables, and if so, how strong the relationship is.
The variables that will be studied are extrinsic religiosity, intrinsic religiosity and social self-efficacy. Specifically it is predicted that those individuals who score highly in both extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity will also score have high social self-efficacy scores. It is also predicted that those individuals who have low religiosity scores will also
have low social self-efficacy scores. Intrinsic religiosity will be defined as the internal value that an individual places on their religion, while extrinsic religiosity is defined as the external attitudes and actions of a person regarding religion. Social self-efficacy is defined as “an appraisal of how well one can execute the course of action required to deal with a specific prospective situation and how well one can cope with the situation” (Matsushima, Shiomi, 2003). While the existence of this relationship has not been determined by prior research, there is reliable data that would suggest a possible correlation as the search for scientific knowledge and discovery continues.
The participants in my study will be taken from the subject pool at Saint Anselm College. The students for the majority, will be freshmen in college, and will participate in the study as a requirement of the psychology department. The sample size will be at least forty participants, and will be divided as much as possible between male and female subjects.
The procedure for the study will first involve informing the participants what they must involve themselves in, so that I may receive their informed consent. The subjects will also be informed that they may drop out of the study at any point in time and that they have no obligation to complete the study if they do not wish to. I will then hand out two questionnaires to the subjects in a quiet classroom. The subjects will be requested to answer all questions as honest as is possible. At the conclusion of the questionnaire I will debrief the individuals as to the nature of the study and the results that I am hoping to fine. I will accomplish this by means of the debriefing statement (See appendix).
There are two self-report measures that will be employed in this study. The first is a religious questionnaire, measuring religiosity, while the second is a social confidence questionnaire. The first questionnaire was employed in a study by McCormick, Hoekman and Smith (2000), and is known as the 20-item Age Universal I-E Scale. This measurement tool was developed by Gorsuch and Venable (1983), and was adapted by a scale developed by Allport and Ross (1967). The scale measures internal and external religious orientation. In the questionnaire, there are 19 items that students respond to on a five point Likert-type scale, with answers ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. The last item “I would prefer to go to church” contains choices including a few times a year, weekly, daily and so forth. The Age Universal I-E Scale has been reported as containing alpha reliability coefficients of .66 and .77, and the validity of the measure was also established. (Gorsuch & Venable, 1983). The Australian study was employing the scale in the examination of extrinsic and intrinsic religious orientation and it’s relationship to a Christian based school. The administrators of the study found no results that would suggest limitations of the questionnaire.
The social self-efficacy of an individual will be determined by employing a 31-item scale adopted from Matsushima and Shiomi (2002). This measure has three subscales, including Self-confidence about Social Skill in Personal Relationship, Trust in Friends and Trust by Friends. The validity and reliability of this scale has been established and confirmed by Matsushima and Shiomi. A 4-point response scale was employed with answers ranging from “very strongly true of me” (4), to “not true at all of me” (1).
The statistic that will be employed in order to determine a relationship between these variables is the Pearson correlation coefficient. The data will be entered into a Citrix account worktable, and the testing will occur in that program.
The results demonstrate no significant correlations on any measures between the religiosity of an individual and the increased social self-efficacy that the student would experience. Three variables were tested, including social self-efficacy, extrinsic religiosity as well as intrinsic religiosity. The scores related to the self-efficacy aspect of the study ranged from a low of 77 to a maximum score of 118. Scoring of the intrinsic religiosity factor ranged from 8 to 37, with the extrinsic score claiming a range from 20 to 42. An Alpha level of .05 was established in order to determine significance between the variables. There were no significant correlations to be found between social self-efficacy and extrinsic religiosity (r(47) = .044, p = .764). There were also no correlations found between social self-efficacy and intrinsic religiosity (r(47) = -.182, p = .210). There were also no significant correlations found between extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity (r(47) = .216, p = .137).
The results do not support
the original hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between the
intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness of an individual and that individual’s
social self-efficacy. Intrinsic religiosity was defined as the internal
value that is associated with religion for an individual, while extrinsic
religiosity is defined as the external characteristics that a person displays
regarding religion. Social self-efficacy is “an appraisal of how
well one can execute the course of action required to deal with a specific
prospective situation and how well one can cope with the situation” (Matsushima
& Shiomi, 2003). There are a number of factors involved in the
study that may have contributed to these results. It can be concluded
that in this study there are no significant correlations between the religiosity
and social self-efficacy of an individual. Several aspects of the
study that were not controlled for by the experimenter may have caused
One possible explanation for the results was in regards to the gender of the individuals tested in the study. The sample size of the project was 49 students at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Out of this number of students only 3 of those who participated were male, leaving the remaining 46 subjects female. This wide discrepancy between the sexes participating in the experiment may have led to unstable results due to a variety of explanations. The first, very simply is that men and women tend to have different points of view on certain subjects, therefore anytime that one sex is studied almost exclusively, there is reason to believe that perhaps if males and females both participated in the experiment there would be more variation in the results. This variation may have led to data that is different from that information gathered. Another aspect to the gender pool in the study is the effect that having an equal amount of men and women might have had on the individual answers to the surveys. It could be argued that these freshman females may have experienced a higher state of anxiety if more males were in the room during the testing period. If more anxiety was indeed experienced, the answers on the self-efficacy survey may have been lower than they were in a more comfortable environment. While this is mere speculation, there is a strong possibility that if the sample size had equal participants of both genders results may have differed.
The age of the participants may have had an effect on the study as well. Out of the 49 students examined, only three were over the age of 19, while only one was under age 18. These results lend considerable weight to the notion that the scores are indeed not representative of the population as a whole, and instead examine only students in their late teens. While these age demographics may be valuable to examine, it is impossible to determine how much of the larger population would have similar results as were determined by this experiment. This is due to a number of factors relating to this age group. To begin with, the scores that were reported were wide-ranging indeed. The minimum self-efficacy score was 77 while the maximum was 118. With regards to extrinsic religiosity, the minimum score was 20 while the maximum was 42. Intrinsic religiosity scores ranged from 8 to 37. One possible explanation for the wide range of scores is the fact that most of these subjects are only weeks into experiencing a major life change in attending college. There could be legitimate sources of confusion within each individual contributing to varying degrees of confidence in the student. College is indeed a period of change for an individual, and arguably this change is occurring in each participant studied. This confusion could affect the answers on the surveys due to perceived peer-pressure, bias on behalf of the experimenter as well as internal confusion on the part of the individual.
Perhaps the participant truly is uncertain of the degree that religiousness affects their lives now that they have moved into a novel environment away from their family. Conceivably the individuals may be uncertain of themselves, and in an attempt to disassociate themselves with this confusion answer highly on the self-efficacy survey in order to convince themselves that they are adjusting to this new lifestyle. While these arguments are merely speculation, it is conceivable that indeed this lifestyle change for these younger participants has a drastic effect not only on this survey, but also on all aspects of their personalities and lives.
There are a number of interesting studies that have occurred that examine college adjustment and self-efficacy. Boulter (2002) examined the relationship between academic adjustment and self-concept in student during the first year of college. The students were administered the Self-Perception Profile for College Students. Results of the study show that one’s self-perception was a significant predictor of the academic adjustment of that individual. The results of this study are of interest due to the finding that there is a relationship between how one views themselves and the ability of that student to adjust to the college setting. In relation to this study, there seems to be reliable information suggesting that these students involved may not have adjusted completely to the college atmosphere and that this lack of comfort may have contributed to lower self-efficacy scores.
Additional research that lends value to this area of research was conducted by Woosley (2003), and examined college students’ initial experiences and how they relate to degree completion. Students in the study were given surveys including Social Adjustment and Academic Adjustment Questions. Results of this particular study suggest that initial social adjustment and academic adjustment are correlated to higher possibilities of degree completion within five years. These results are of interest because they suggest that students who have adjusted comfortably to college life, perhaps also will have a more positive self-concept, thus completing school in an appropriate amount of time. In relation to this study, students who have not adjusted to college perhaps view themselves with less confidence and thus have lesser degrees of social self-efficacy than those students who have indeed adjusted to college life.
In keeping with the discussion of other studies as well as adjustment to college, it is important to mention a particular study conducted by Matsushima and Shiomi (2001). This study involved the examination of social self-efficacy and interpersonal stress in adolescence. The questionnaire was administered to 180 high school students, 41 of who were boys and 139 being female. These numbers are considered to be of interest due to the similar discrepancy in gender differences. The mean age of the high school students was 16.9, while the age for the college students in this study was 18.39. The social self-efficacy mean score of the high school participants was 103, while the score for the college aged group was 99.59. It would appear that by examining these results one is able to contend that perhaps as an individual graduates high school and continues in the avenue of higher education, their social-self-efficacy decreases slightly. This could be accounted for due to varying factors. The college age student no longer has the security of relating to those peers who have been familiar to the student since childhood and perhaps now with the absence of this comfort the college student feels less comfortable around unfamiliar students. These differences could also be due to the novelty of arriving at an unfamiliar school where one is not familiar with their peers, contributing to the decay of their self-efficacy. Lastly, the high school students in all probability are less familiar with themselves than their college counterparts, and therefore may not understand their true emotions. The college students on the other hand have had more experiences and therefore may realize that they may not be as confident as they would like to consider themselves to be. This realization is met with acceptance on behalf of the older student, and they are not intimidated by including it in their self-report measures. The results obtained by Matsushima and Shiomi (2001) suggest another important factor. The authors suggest that indeed subjects who have low self-efficacy oftentimes have more stressors in their lives compared to people who have high social self-efficacy. This finding is significant because it supports the argument that new college students are facing more stressors than those students who are already adjusted to college. Therefore if the sample size of a study incorporates primarily freshman college students, perhaps their social self-efficacy is low at this point in time due to the stressors they are facing. It can now be argued that if the sample size included equal amounts of members from each class, the results would have been more significant.
Another interesting variable pertaining to the study was the fact that there were two different nights on which the study was administered one week apart. The most significant aspect to this variable is the fact that on the first night that the surveys were completed, there also happened to be a significant baseball game broadcasting just moments after the conclusion of the experiment. Although this may sound trivial and insignificant, there is a strong possibility that the students who received the self-report measures on this night may have completed the surveys more expeditiously and therefore with less accuracy than those students a week later. While there is no telling whether or not the students participating in the later group quickly finished their respective surveys, thus sacrificing on validity, it can be theorized that those students a week before had a significant reason to finish with a sense of urgency, therefore creating less accurate results. In keeping with this topic, an area that was met with surprise on the part of the researcher was the large difference between the amount of students in the original survey group of students and those participating in the later group. On the first night the surveys were administered, a total of thirteen participants partook in answering the questionnaires. During the next testing session one week later, 36 students were given the same tests.
The confounding variable in this situation was the possibility that those in a more intimate setting during the first week, may have felt more comfortable answering with greater honestly than those participants in the more intimidating, crowded setting. The opposite could be argued as well however. This argument would hold that those in the first group were less anonymous than those in the later testing group. This lack of anonymity caused by association with the initial testing group could arguably result in a higher degree of self-consciousness, thereby affecting the results of the surveys. Again, while there is no proof of these variables influencing the surveys, science calls for all possibilities to be scrutinized.
One final aspect of the study that may have contributed to the results that were found is the possible confounding due to the religiousness of Saint Anselm College. There is a possibility that the participants in the study did not wish to fit into the
undefined, yet presumed role of a religious student, and therefore answered survey questions designed to examine religiosity not entirely truthfully. This may be due to experimenter expectancy effects, or the ultimate desire of the students to be individualistic.
Indeed the results of this study show no relationship between any of the variables. A number of reasons have been identified that may have contributed to the results of the study. These included limited gender differences in the sample size, similarities in age of the participants, as well as possible confounds in the testing groups. The limits of the study however allow others to pursue knowledge in this area to a fuller degree. As long as there is religion, the effects that this religiosity has on the personalities of individuals can forever be theorized and studied. This study has only scraped the overwhelming surface of religion and social self-efficacy, as the search for scientific discovery and knowledge is consistently pursued.
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