Absence of Religiosity and Negative Outcomes

Coursera Data Analysis and Visualization Week 1

According the Gallop Organization religious devotion and practice is in decline in America. It is my assumption that adults who are not religious will not transmit religiosity to their children. If this is the case, it could have an effect on the positive and negative factors associated with religion.

Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) survey results – a representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States –  I seek to answer the question of whether or not religiosity is associated with negative outcomes (defined later). If religion is negatively associated with negative outcomes, we can then expect this trend in religiosity to be beneficial for individuals.

However, if the opposite is true (i.e. religion is positively associated with negative outcomes – i.e. protective against negative outcomes), this research could start a discussion concerning this trend in the American population regarding religiousness.

Determining Religiosity

To determine religiosity, I will use Section 37 (Religion) of the Add Health survey population.

Determining Negative Outcomes

I will use Sections 5 Academics, 8 Pregnancy and STDs 28 Tobacco/Alcohol/Drugs, 29 Delinquency, 31 Fighting/Violence, and section 33 Suicide.


Since religions prescribe behaviors and/or adoption of a mindset which has a determinative effect on behavior, I assume that when increases or decreases of religious individuals are observed in a human  population there would also be a corresponding increase or decrease in certain behaviors.

According to Jennifer Manlove et al. “Cohesive family environments and positive peer networks contribute to reduced levels of risky sexual behavior among adolescents from religious families.” Their work, focusing on decisions regarding sexual behavior, was done using the same source data and I will be following in their footsteps but looking at a broader range of activity. James M Nonnemaker et al. also looked at a broader set of behaviors, namely cigarettes; alcohol; and marijuana use, and found that religiousness again proved to generally associated with better decision making. Their method broke religiousness into two subgroups (public and private) which I will not do, but my study will ask the same basic question as Nonnemaker again expanding the domain of activities.

Because religion is generally aimed at the betterment of individuals, and prior research indicates that religiosity is indeed associated with better decision making, I hypothesize that religious adolescents will be less likely to experience negative outcomes as defined in this study.


Gallop Polls on Religion


Public and private domains of religiosity and adolescent health risk behaviors: evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health

James M Nonnemaker, Clea A McNeely, Robert Wm Blum


The Effects of Religiosity on Adolescent Self-Reported Frequency of Drug and Alcohol Use

John K. Cochran


Pathways from Family Religiosity to Adolescent Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use

Jennifer Manlove, Cassandra Logan, Kristen Moore, Erum Ikramullah