Presentation Title

The Fullness of the Heart: Internalization of Religion and Well-Being

Presenter Status

Professor of Psychology, Behavioral Sciences Department

Preferred Session

Oral Session

Presentation Abstract

Religiosity is often defined by frequency of attendance at religious services, or self-reports of personal importance of religion. While these are measures that allow for comparison across very different forms of religious belief, I will propose that there is value in understanding religion from a multi-level behavioral sciences perspective that examine not only individual religious behavior, but also the community context that defines what actions matter for belonging.

I will do this by introducing a psychological theory of motivation that defines internalization as a function of moving from controlled to autonomous regulation of motivation for some particular behavior. I will then use a variety of visualization techniques to examine internalization of common Christian low-cost behaviors and specific high cost behaviors among Seventh-day Adventists, focusing particularly on different levels of internalization among emerging Seventh-day Adventist adults (age 18-25—a cohort that has a higher likelihood of disaffiliation from the Seventh-day Adventist church. I will argue that the data supports investment in religious communities in internalizing those behaviors that allow belief to be translated into belonging.

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Acknowledgments

Portions of this work were supported by an Undergraduate Research Scholarship award to Paola Caceres, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and the Institute for Prevention of Addiction.

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The Fullness of the Heart: Internalization of Religion and Well-Being

Religiosity is often defined by frequency of attendance at religious services, or self-reports of personal importance of religion. While these are measures that allow for comparison across very different forms of religious belief, I will propose that there is value in understanding religion from a multi-level behavioral sciences perspective that examine not only individual religious behavior, but also the community context that defines what actions matter for belonging.

I will do this by introducing a psychological theory of motivation that defines internalization as a function of moving from controlled to autonomous regulation of motivation for some particular behavior. I will then use a variety of visualization techniques to examine internalization of common Christian low-cost behaviors and specific high cost behaviors among Seventh-day Adventists, focusing particularly on different levels of internalization among emerging Seventh-day Adventist adults (age 18-25—a cohort that has a higher likelihood of disaffiliation from the Seventh-day Adventist church. I will argue that the data supports investment in religious communities in internalizing those behaviors that allow belief to be translated into belonging.

View Presentation Recording