Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Measures of religiosity

I often use attendance at religious services as a measure of religious commitment (because it is usually the only question available) but there could be many reasons to go church: to please your parents, because you like some girl there, to find business opportunities, etc. How well does the measure actually tap sincere commitment?

Teenagers--individuals who are often forced to go to church--were asked in the Add Health Study: 1) frequency of church attendance, 2) frequency of prayer, and 3) importance of religion to self. I correlated the measures for 6,504 individuals:

Pearson Correlations

Church attendance-Importance .69
Church attendance-Prayer .66
Importance-Prayer .76 

Getting correlations this high from survey data is rare (frankly, it feels good when it happens). Cronbach's alpha--a measure of how well the measures hang together--is .88 which indicates that the measures are tapping an underlying concept--religiosity.

The numbers are this high even though some of the teenage religious involvement is coerced. I conclude that any one of these questions is an adequate measure of religiosity.  

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