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Lierature review

First Study

Reference: Genia, Vicky and Shaw, Dale E. 1991. "Religion, Intrinsic-Extrinsic Orientation, and Depression." Review of Religious Research 32(3):274-283.

Hypothesis: The authors hypothesize that depression will be greater among groups that are proreligious, extrinsic and nonreligious than among people who have intrinsic religiosity. In affect, the authors believe that religiosity influences one's mental health.

Sample: The unit of analysis is 309 students. The students included 97 Catholics, 39 Jews, 77 evangelical Protestants, 51 religiously liberal Protestants and 45 Unitarian-Universalizes. There were 115 males and 191 females (3 unspecified) ranging in age from 17 to 83; mean age of 29 years. The average participant had completed 3 years of college.

Method: Initially, 522 surveys were distributed in the Washington, DC area. These surveys included two scales, the Religious Orientation Inventory (ROI); a measurement of religiousity, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); a measurement for depression. The dependent variable was depression, and the independent variable was religiosity. Three hundred nine questionnaires were returned resulting in a 61% return rate.

Findings: The results of the surveys indicate that depression was negatively related to intrinsicness and positively related to extrinsicness. However, there was no differences in depression among the nonreligious, extrinsic or proreligious groups.

Conclusions: The study supports the researcher's hypothesis that intrinsic religious commitment is correlated to a more positive outlook and extrinsic religiosity is related to a higher rate of depression. The authors believe that the methodology they used was to generalized and that a clear straightfoward measurement of intrinsic verses extrinsic religiosity was not ideally found.

Second Study

Reference: Easing, Rob, Felling, Albert and Perters, Jan. 1990. "Religious Belief, Church Involvement and Ethnocentrism in the Netherlands." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 29(1):54-75.

Hypothesis: Church members in the Netherlands are more likely to be prejudiced with regard to Holland's ethnic minorities and more likely to be nationalistic than nonmembers.

Sample: The unit of analysis was the general Dutch population. The initial sample consisted of 3,003 participants aging from 18 to 70. This sample was then broken down into a smaller subset; eliminating randomly chosen people who did not deliberately receive a series of questions, and those who had missing data.

Method: The data used was taken from the national survey in 1985, "Social and Cultural Developments in the Netherlands." In this survey, they compared the Independent variables: Christian Beliefs, Authoritarianism, and Localism to that of the dependent variable: ethnocentrism. The authors tried to determine what level of ethnocentrism one has depending on their religious beliefs: church members and church nonmembers. Scales measuring attitudes toward religion, ethnic outgroups and national ingroups were used in the survey.

Findings: The study showed that categories including church members were more likely to show prejudices that categories including nonmembers. Moderate levels of church involvement showed a higher level of prejudices than both the nonmembers and core church members. In addition, the study showed that nationalism was seen the lowest in nonmembers. Modest church members were more likely to be nationalistic, in comparison to nonmembers and core church members. A correlation between negative attitudes toward new ethnic minorities in Holland and positive attitudes toward the national Dutch in-group.

Conclusion: The authors concluded that religious beliefs do not cultivate prejudices. Their original hypothesis was not accurate, but at the same rate it was not inconclusive. While the studies showed that moderate levels of church involvement indicated a higher level of prejudices, core church members had a negative effect on ethnic prejudices. The authors suggest from these results that a study showing a separation of different types of church members may result in greater findings. The data supports that Christian beliefs has a positive affects on nationalism.

Third Study

Reference: Perkins, Wesley H. 1992. "Students Religiosity and Social Justice Concerns in England and the United States: Are Thet Still Related?" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 31(3):353-360.

Hypothesis: A strong religious commitment among students in England and the United States reduces racial prejudices.

Sample: The unit of analysis was 2,299 introductory sociology students at five colleges: Loughborough University, University of Reading, and the University of Sheffeild in England; the University of Central Florida, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY in the United States. The samples selected provided diversity in gender, ethnic background, regional and rural/urban backgrounds, and parents' occupational prestige for each country.

Method: The data was taken using a Value Inventory (VI) survey which measured values among students. A cross-national data base allowed the researchers to explore values and beliefs of students having different cultural visions. The study was a follow up study from ten years previously. The independent variable, religiosity, was measured by their religious preferences and attitude scales. The dependent variables: Humanitarianism, Egalitarianism and Racism were measured by scales attempting to show personal positions concerning justice.

Findings: Religiosity displayed a positive relationship to humanitarianism in England. Protestants were connected with less humanitarianism in the prior study, but in this study the findings were inverted. Religiosity was the only statistically significant variable that predicted humanitarianism. Egalitarianism had no correlation with religiosity in England. In the United States, high levels of religiosity showed egalitarian beliefs in the first study only. Moderate religiosity was correlated with high levels of racism in both countries.

Conclusions: The authors support their original hypothesis. They believe that a strong religious commitment among students reduces racial prejudices and augments humanitarianism. Egalitarianism are unaffected by religiosity. Consistent cross-national data does not show less social justice concern among highly religious students. The data does show a decrease over the ten years on the effect of religiosity on humanitarianism and egalitarianism. The authors suggest that this could be caused by the change in the present generation. They believe that the present generation puts less attention on humanitarianism and more attention on themselves.

Fourth Study

Reference: Chalfant, Paul H. and Peek, Charles W. 1983. "Religious Affiliation, Religiosity and Racial Prejudice: A New Look at Old Relationships." Review of Religious Research 25(2):155-161.

Hypothesis: Religious affiliation and religiosity leading to higher prejudices than do non-affiliation and low religiosity.

Sample: The unit of analysis is adult white participants in the United States. (no more info was given.)

Method: The data was taken from three NORC surveys. The surveys contained information on racial prejudice two religious variables. The independent variable, Religiosity was found only in respondents who attended religious services at least several times annually. Those who did were considered affiliated, those who did not were non-affiliated. The other three independent variables used were social status, region and year. Social status was characterized by the level of education completed. The dependent variable was racial prejudices.

Findings: In only six of the sixteen groups analyzed religious affiliated adults revealed more racial prejudice than non-affiliated adults. The researchers re-calculated the data by including very low attenders in their calculations. This showed that racial prejudices was exhibited in all affiliated groups except Jewish and Episcopal groups.

Conclusions: The researchers believe that a correlation can be made between religiosity and racial prejudices. Even though religiosity was shown merely by effects attendance, religious traditions may account for the racial prejudices. Hence, religious denominations may be factors in racial prejudices. In addition, the researchers also suggest that racial prejudice may affect religiosity as much as religiosity a racial prejudice.

Fifth Study

Reference: Foster, Rachel Ann and Keating, John P. 1992. "Measuring Androcentrism in the Western God-Concept." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 31(3):366-375.

Hypothesis: To provide validation that the Western God-concept is male.

Sample: The unit of analysis are students in introductory psychology and sociology classes. Since there was three studies done within the whole study, numbers of students varied from phase to phase. (56, 57, 41,59, and 100 respectively)

Method: Three methodologies were used to carry out the study in order to include cultural and personal God-concepts. The first methodology asked for free response descriptions of God. The second methodology was a cued response task to describe cultural God-concepts. The third methodology used was a questionnaire to determine (a) what they thought most people believed and (b) their own personal beliefs. The independent variable is one's concept of God and the dependent variable is one's personal and cultural beliefs.

Findings: More than four times as many participants agreed with "God is a heavenly father" as with "God is a heavenly mother," and more than three times agreed with "God is a heavenly parent," than "God is a heavenly mother." Their findings also showed that Christians might be more likely to include a female element in the cultural God concept. Characterizing by gender, 2/3 agreed that God was a father but not a mother. In looking at the personal God concept, twice as many participants agreed with father as mother. there was no significant differences due to the respondents sex or ethnicity.

Conclusions: The authors findings support their original hypothesis that cultural and personal God concepts are male. They also concluded that there is some evidence suggesting that students God concepts are male or female or both.

Summary/Synthesis

The five studies I have compiled include research on religion in relation to prejudices, well-being, and one's concept of God. While each study I have listed above deals with a different aspect of these concepts, all confirm that religion is a major factor in influencing our own being.

The studies have discrepancies between them. The second and fourth study support the notion that higher religiosity leads to stronger prejudices, while the thirst study finds that stronger religious commitment reduces racial prejudices. I believe that there is discrepancies for two reasons. First, there is not a general understanding of how religiosity is defined. These studies have defined it in various ways. The third study characterizes it as a behavior pattern (attending church) while the second study characterizes religiosity as an attitude, using various scales. Second, there is no clear, universal scale used in the studies to measure the dependent variable, prejudice. This being so, there is no way to comparatively define prejudice.

Pertaining to my own research project, I chose these five aspects of religion in order to help me devise my own hypothesis. The broadened topics have helped me to narrow down the topic I wish to choose. The fifth study, "Measuring Androcentrism in the Western God-Concept," was not originally included. I came across it in my research and it interested me. I included it because I believe it will probably be a direction I will go in. This particular article uses a free response methodology. I think that when questioning a topic such as religion, it is important to gain an understanding of respondents personal ideals. This may be hard to achieve in surveys or simple questions.

These studies helped me to critically analyze the many considerations taken when carrying out research. In all five studies, the researchers were very conscious in the way in which they analyzed and conceived the data. In all but the fourth study, the researchers give precise details about the samples. They make sure that the samples are diverse, if necessary and representative of the group studying by using randomness.

I also observed that while a precise research question was being asked in each of these studies, other conclusions were drawn from the data collected. Such is the case in study five. The authors intention was to provide validation that the western God concept is male. After collecting data they also had reason to believe that students' God concepts can be male or both female and male.

In affect, these research studies gave me a thorough overview for basic sociological research. The information I compiled on the studies gave me a direct look at the study, which is conducive in seeing the deductions made. The sample and methods used in the studies abled the authors to deduct conclusions and raise additional research questions.

References

Chalfant, Paul H. and Peek, Charles W. 1983. "Religious Affiliation, Religiosity and Racial Prejudice: A New Look at Old Relationships." Review of Religious Research 25(2):155-161.

Easing, Rob, Felling, Albert and Perters, Jan. 1990. "Religious Belief, Church Involvement and Ethnocentrism in the Netherlands." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 29(1):54-75.

Foster, Rachel Ann and Keating, John P. 1992. "Measuring Androcentrism in the Western God-Concept." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 31(3):366-375.

Genia, Vicky and Shaw, Dale E. 1991. "Religion, Intrinsic-Extrinsic Orientation, and Depression." Review of Religious Research 32(3):274-283.

Perkins, Wesley H. 1992. "Students Religiosity and Social Justice Concerns in England and the United States: Are Thet Still Related?" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 31(3):353-360.

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