Profiles of adolescent religiousness using latent profile analysis: Implications for psychopathology

Gregory S. Longo, Bethany C. Bray, Jungmeen Kim-Spoon

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    11 Scopus citations


    Prior research has documented robust associations between adolescent religiousness/spirituality (R/S) and psychopathology outcomes including externalizing and internalizing symptomatology, yet no previous studies have examined these associations with adolescent R/S profiles using a person-centred approach. We examined whether there are identifiable subgroups characterized by unique multidimensional patterns of R/S experiences and how these experiences may be related to externalizing and internalizing symptomatology. The sample consisted of 220 Appalachian adolescents between 12 and 18 years old who were primarily White and primarily Christian. Latent profile analysis revealed three profiles of adolescent R/S: high religiousness (28.4%), introjectors (47.6%), and low religiousness (24.0%). These profiles were differentially related to internalizing and externalizing symptomatology such that the high religiousness group was significantly lower than the introjectors with respect to internalizing and externalizing symptomatology and lower than the low religiousness group in externalizing symptomatology. Implications and suggestions for future research using person-centred approaches to better understand differential developmental trajectories of religious development are provided. Statement of contribution What is already known Prior research has demonstrated a negative relationship between adolescent religiousness and spirituality (R/S) and psychopathology. Numerous studies document the differential relationships between aspects of R/S and psychopathology; however, few have done so from a person-centred perspective. There are several theories that outline how R/S to study R/S when paying specific attention to culture. Saroglou's Big Four dimensions of religion (believing, bonding, behaving, and belonging) posits that these four dimensions (1) are able to delimit religion from proximal constructs; (2) translate major distinct dimensions of religiousness; (3) can be seen across cultural contexts; and (4) are good candidates to study cultural variability in religion due to their diversity; however, to the authors’ knowledge there has been no attempt to synthesize the Big Four dimensions and person-centred work. What the present study adds The present study found three profiles of adolescent R/S: high religiousness, low religiousness, and of particular interest, the introjectors. Those high in introjection seem to have a partial internalization of religiousness due to their low score in private practices but moderate to high scores on other aspects of religiousness. This group would not have been found through the use of traditional data analysis techniques or even through structural equation models. Importantly, those in the introjector group were also significantly higher in internalizing symptomatology than those in the high religiousness group, and higher in externalizing symptomatology than both the high religiousness and low religiousness. This ‘u-shaped’ pattern in which those in the middle-range of R/S were the worst off would also not have been found using traditional data analysis techniques.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)91-105
    Number of pages15
    JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Developmental Neuroscience


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