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Religious Preferences

This refers to an “individual’s evaluations of competing religious goods” (Sherkat 1997:69). Religious preferences as a concept is used to explain why individuals participate in different religions or choose varying styles of religion. It seeks to answer why specific religious choices are made. Generally, religious preferences are adaptive, grow stronger with consumption, and can respond to new information. Individuals learn their preferences through socialization and past experiences; immersion in religious communities causes individuals to have particular religious understandings which give religion value (Sherkat 1997:70).

Some possible operationalizations of religious preferences include how individuals view the Bible, God, or the path to salvation. Each of these are theological (and therefore cultural) issues that serve as markers to what types of religious goods individuals prefer. Worship style preference could also approximate the preferences individuals might have for religious goods. Some might desire an experiential or emotionally expressive faith, while others prefer more formalized rituals.

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Citations:

Barker, Eileen. 1984. The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Durkin, John T. and Andrew M. Greeley. 1991. “A Model of Religious Choice Under Uncertainty: On Responding Rationally to the Nonrational.” Rationality and Society 3:178-96.

Sherkat, Darren E. 1997. “Embedding Religious Choices: Integrating Preferences and Social Constraints into Rational Choice Theories of Religious Behavior.” Pp. 65-86 in Rational Choice Theory and Religion: Summary and Assessment, ed. LA Young. New York: Routledge.

Sherkat, Darren E. 1998. “Counterculture or Continuity? Competing Influences on Baby Boomers’ Religious’ Orientations and Participation.” Social Forces 76:1087-1115.

Sherkat, Darren E. and John Wilson. 1995. “Preferences, Constraints, and Choices in Religious Markets: an Examination of Religious Switching and Apostasy.” Social Forces 73:993-1026.

The following are possible measures of Religious Preferences that can be created using data from theARDA.com
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These questions measure how literally respondents read the Bible or other sacred scriptures.  It is debatable whether this measure taps more of a belief or an identity.  Although certainly some of both, the latter seems to be more important, as "literalists" from different interpretive communities may disagree on which parts of the Bible are to be taken literally. What is clear is that this question taps a dimension of religion important for understanding other aspects of religiosity, political attitudes, and views about moral authority more generally.  Accordingly this measure has become a standard control, along with service attendance and religious tradition.  It is also used as an indicator of fundamentalism.  Although some believers claim that belief in Biblical "inerrancy" is different, this too is typically taken to mean "literalism." Measures typically include three or four response options.  Researchers sometimes employ these as ordinal categories, while others utilize them as nominal categories. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
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Images of God are typically measured using a battery of questions inquiring about the traits that respondents attribute to God.  Typically these descriptions fall out along underlying dimensions, especially the following: level of engagement or distance from the world, wrath or anger, and love.  These dimensions, as well specific combinations of these dimensions, have been found to have a substantial relationship with political and moral ideology. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:

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This asks respondents what religious tradition their parents ascribe to and allows researchers to investigate why individuals maintain or change from the religious tradition they were exposed to when younger. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
    Examples  
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Q31A - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
MaRelig - 1988 General Social Survey PaRelig - 1988 General Social Survey Moms Relig - 1998 General Social Survey Pops Relig - 1998 General Social Survey PRelign - 2003 National Study of Youth and Religion (Wave 1) Search the ARDA for similar measures.
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An estimate of how many people in a respondent's social network are religious. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
    Examples  
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Friends  - 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey
FrRel - 2008 National Study of Youth and Religion (Wave III)
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This measure approximates the extent to which respondents' religious beliefs about salvation are inclusive or exclusive of those unlike them. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
    Examples  
Several files in the ARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Q25 - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
Saved - 2004 America's Evangelicals Survey
OnlyHope - 2000 Lilly Survey of Attitudes and Social Networks
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Respondents reveal whether or not they have had certain religious experiences. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
    Examples  
Several files in theARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Reborn - 2006 General Social Survey FeelGod - 2004 General Social Survey NumRelEx - 2004 General Social Survey SP_1 - Panel Study of American Religion and Ethnicity Tongues2 - Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals Q28 - 2005 Baylor Religion Survey
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These are measures that assess what types of activities occur within the context of worship services in a given religious group.  Such practices are often used to delineate between liturgical and ritualistic practices, as opposed to emotive and extemporaneous practices. View related items in the Measurement Wizard:
    Examples  
Several files in the ARDA's Data Archive have examples of this Measure.
Q125-143 - 1998 National Congregations Study
Q17-44 - 2000 Presbyterian Panel Study
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