Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Potential Pathways Affecting Youth Outcomes


Smith and Denton (2005) summarize nine pathways through which religiosity could exert a positive influence on youth outcomes:

  • Moral directives
  • Spiritual experiences
  • Role models
  • Community and leadership experiences
  • Coping skills
  • Cultural capital
  • Social capital
  • Network closure (the degree to which everyone knows everyone else in a social network)
  • Extracommunity links

     Scholarship on religion and youth has demonstrated that faith is generally important to American teens, and that religion reduces adolescents involvement in risk activities while fostering pro-social behaviors. Thus, religion would seem to function as a positive influence in the lives of youth. (Bartkowski, Xu, & Levin, 2008, p. 19)

Some of these pathways suggest the direct influence of religiosity on youths through, for example, encouraging beliefs about morality. Others suggest that religiosity affects youth indirectly by bolstering social and emotional resourcessuch as coping skills and cultural and social capitalthat enhance youth development and can serve as protective factors against psychological distress that may otherwise translate into negative behaviors.

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