Religious Identity: Conceptualization and measurement of thereligious self Open Access

Bell, David Matthew (2009)

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Abstract Within the social sciences and humanities, research into the formation and functioning of identity has gained much attention over the last few decades. However, each field has operated in relative isolation of the other. This dissertation draws together many different disciplines in order to better understand religious identity. Psychological research in identity has begun to question the notion of measuring a global identity for each person, and instead, to consider modular domains of identity functioning. First, the dissertation offers a theoretical background for religious identity. By thoroughly investigating the conceptual development of identity in Erik Erikson's work, the project shows numerous insights into and problems with the current measurement paradigm of identity. It then looks at current research into autobiographical memory through cognitive science and considers several aspects of evolutionary psychology and identity. This section argues that religious identity is a core concept for the psychological study of religion, even though the field has largely overlooked this factor. Secondly, the project develops a conceptual foundation for an empirical measure of religious identity by first reviewing the current research in the interaction between religion and identity, and then by carefully laying out a foundation for religious identity salience and a reinterpretation of Marcia's four identity statuses specific to religious identity functioning. Finally, the project offers a empirical project as a preliminary religious identity measurement. The measure is given to 650 participants and the data in described in detail. The dissertation shows that religious identity often implicitly functions in individuals in a subconscious fashion. Social approval bias and "deity approval bias" are suggested as explanations for explicit increases in reported religious identity salience. Finally, the data supports the conceptual validity of four religious identity statuses operating among the participants. Various results show that age and religious backgrounds are very important factors in religious identity formation.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Academic Context 3

Thesis, Organization, and Design 5

Chapter 1: Synonyms of Self: Erikson and Quest for Identity 12

Biography 14

Configurational Approach 21

Ego, Ego boundaries, and Ego Growth 25

Erikson's Epigenetic Theory 28

Erikson's Conception of Ego Identity 32

Erikson's Psychosocial Model 39

Developing Ego Identity: Erikson After 1950 48

Chapter 2: A Multidimensional Approach to Identity 62

Autobiographical Memory and Implicit Memory 66

Social Construction of Autobiographical Memory 68

Ontogenetic Construction of Autobiographical Memory 69

Possible Selves 74

Narrative Theory and the Construction of the Self 77

Evolutionary Psychology 88

A Multidimensional Approach 94

Chapter 3: Review of Identity and Religion Measures 96

Marcia's Paradigm 97

Domain Specificity 105

Religiosity Measures 108

Chapter 4: A Conceptual Foundation for Religious Identity 112

Multidimensional Approach to Religious Identity 113

Implicit and Explicit Aspects of Religious Identity 114

Religious Identity Formation 117

Religious Identity Diffusion 119

Religious Identity Foreclosure 120

Religious Identity Moratorium 121

Religious Identity Integration 121

In Dialogue with Fowler's Stages 122

Transcendence 123

Religious Identity Focus 124

Religious Identity in the Sociopolitical Realm 124

Measuring Religious Identity 125

Chapter 5: Measuring Religious Identity 127

Preliminary Aspects in Construct Validity 127

Scale Construction 130

Religious Identity Salience (RISa) 131

Religious Identity Statuses (RISt) 134

Religious Identity Diffusion Items 137

Religious Identity Foreclosure Items 138

Religious Identity Moratorium Items 141

Religious Identity Integration Items 144

Chapter 6: Measuring Religious Identity - Methods and Results 148

Sample 148

Procedure 153

Results 155

Religious Identity Salience 155

Religious Identity Status 162

Religious Identity Diffusion 163

Religious Identity Foreclosure 165

Religious Identity Moratorium 168

Religious Identity Integration 170

Religious Identity Correlations 173

Statistical Analysis for Age 177

Statistical Analysis for Religious Background 179

Chapter 7: Measuring Religious Identity - Discussion and Review 185

Religious Identity Salience 186

Religious Identity Statuses 191

Bibliography 214

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