Social and Genetic Influences on Adolescent Religious Attitudes and Practices


The authors explore the contributions of social and genetic influences to religious attitudes and practices in a population-based sample of 11-18 year olds and their mothers who responded to a Religious Attitudes and Practices Inventory and Religious Rearing Practices Inventory respectively. Contrary to genetic studies examining adult religious behavior, genetic influences were small, accounting for only 10 percent of the variance. Rather, the effects of the social environment were much larger, greater than 50 percent, and a majority of offspring similarity was explained by familial rearing. In light of the divergent finding between adolescents and adults, one supporting a socialization model and the other a genetic model, the importance of integrating genetic and social science methodology for complex social behaviors is discussed.