Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Findings for Youths

07/10/2009

With low-income and delinquent youths, higher levels of religiosity increase the probability that youths choose nonviolent methods to resolve hypothetical conflicts (DuRant, Treiber, Goodman, & Woods, 1996) and decrease the probability that they engage in illegal activities (Johnson et al., 2000b). These findings support the basic tenets of reference group theory. According to this theory, if groups are highly religious, then they shape the beliefs and behaviors of their members, who are thus more likely to engage in nonviolent methods for conflict resolution and less likely to engage in illegal activities. Higher levels of religiosity are positively associated with lower involvement in general crime among low-income youths who resided in disordered neighborhoods. Johnson (2008b) finds that church attendance reduces the negative effects of living in a disordered neighborhood on involvement in criminal activity. This remains true even when the development of social bonds and social networks that are likely to dissuade youth from engaging in criminal acts are considered. An interesting finding in the Johnson (2008b) study is that church attendance does not buffer youths from disordered neighborhoods from engaging in crime from a general perspective. However, when the crime variable is separated into minor and serious crime, Church attendance buffers youths from disordered neighborhoods from serious crime but not from minor crime.

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