This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Hellfire, home, and harm: An investigation of the interaction between religiosity, family processes, and adolescent deviant behavior




Pickering, Lloyd

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


There is an abundant literature dealing with the relationship between religiosity and deviant behavior in adolescence (Baier & Wright, 2001; Johnson, de Li, Larson, & McCullough, 2000; Johnson, Jang, Larson, & de Li, 2001). A considerable amount of research has also been conducted on the nature of the family processes/deviance connection (Baumrind, 1996; Patterson, 1982; Simons et al., 1991). There are few studies, however, that investigate the interplay between religiosity and family processes in deterring deviance (Benda & Corwyn, 2000; Benda & Toombs, 2000). The current study sought to test two potentially competing models of the interrelationship between religiosity, family processes, and deviance: 1) family processes mediating the relationship between religiosity and deviance, and 2) religiosity moderating the relationship between family processes and deviance. In addition, these models were also tested to see whether they would be moderated by age (younger, older) or sex (male, female). A sample of N = 865 high school students responded to survey questions dealing with religiosity (8 single items, 3 scales), family processes (6 scales for both mothers and fathers), and deviance (7 subscales, a total deviance scale, and 4 additional scales). Race and SES were used as control variables. A structural equation modeling (SEM) analytic approach (Holmbeck, 1997) was used for the mediation analyses and results indicated that family processes never mediated the relationship between religiosity and deviance. SEM (Mounts, 2002) was also utilized for testing moderation effects, both for religiosity as well as sex and age. Results from these moderation analyses indicated that, not only was it found that religiosity did not moderate the relationship between family processes and deviance, but also neither age nor sex ever moderated any of these structural models. Additional findings in the study included the fact that religiosity and deviance were moderately, negatively correlated (r = .31); that the religiosity scales, particularly relational practice, performed better than the single-item religiosity measures; and that religiosity was related to all types of deviance, including secular and victim deviance. Future research in this area should seek to improve methods of data collection (e.g., multi-method) and to develop better scalar measures of religiosity.