Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Marion Merchant


Problem. Research is lacking on how the concept of salvation develops in children and adolescents from Christian religious populations. the purpose of this study was to explore how the concept of salvation develops in Argentinean and Paraguayan Seventh-day Adventist children and adolescents, from a psychological perspective.

Method. Using a developmental, cross-sectional design, semiclinical interviews were conducted with 120 Argentinean and Paraguayan children, ages 6 to 17, to assess the development of the concept and assurance of salvation. Subjects also completed (1) a semantic differential scale, which measured their attitudes toward salvation (ATS), (2) a demographic and religious practices information survey, and (3) drawings. Data were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively.

Results. There were significant differences in concepts of salvation and assurance of salvation levels among the hypothesized developmental age groups (6 and 7, 8 to 12, and 13 to 17 years old). Assurance of salvation was inversely related to age, with a marked shift at age 10. Subjects' positive attitudes toward salvation were inversely related to age for most of the ATS subscales. Frequency of Bible study and other devotional reading was related to concept of salvation levels. There was no relationship between family and individual religious practices and assurance of salvation levels, but there were significant relationships among many of these religious practices and attitudes toward salvation. The understanding of different aspects of the concept of salvation did not follow the same pace of development for each subject. Ten percent of the subjects belonged to transitional phases between periods. Some aspects of the concept of salvation did not appear age-related, but environment- or instruction-related.


1. The level of conceptualization of salvation increases with age. Nevertheless, some aspects do not appear to be age-related.

2. Subjective assurance of salvation and positive attitudes toward salvation decline with age.

3. Frequency of church attendance, and family and personal devotional practices positively relate to attitudes toward salvation.

4. Cognitive understanding of salvation and affective attitudes toward salvation do not follow the same developmental direction through the various age stages.

Subject Area

Salvation, Children--Religious life, Christian education of children.

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