Student Dissertations & Theses

Date of Award

Winter 12-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jamie Hughes, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Emily Farris, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Janet Carter, Ph.D.


This study investigated the relationship between 72 respondents’ parental marriage status and childhood parental attachment on religious outcomes in young adulthood. It partly replicated a study by Zhai et al. (2007) with several notable differences, such as using recent data as opposed to archived data and examining both maternal and paternal attachments separately in light of the compensation hypothesis of religious attachment theory. An online survey was used to gather data. Chi-square tests revealed there were significantly more participants with insecure paternal attachments from families with divorced parents than from traditional families. Also, participants with insecure paternal attachments switched religious preferences less frequently than those with secure paternal attachments, which is contrary to the compensation hypothesis. Last, 2x2 ANOVA tests indicated young adults with secure maternal attachments reported higher maternal religious socialization than young adults with insecure maternal attachments, and the same finding was significant for paternal attachment types and paternal religious socialization. Therefore, the social learning theory as related to religiosity was supported by this study. Understanding the impact of parental divorce and childhood attachment on religiosity is of interest to religious scholars and those trying to understand the long-term implications of divorce on children’s religious beliefs and practices.



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