emerging adulthood, religion, culture, risk behavior


Recent research has highlighted the role of culture in emerging adulthood (age between 18 and 25 years). However, most studies have examined majority cultures (e.g., China) as well as subcultures (e.g., American ethnic minorities). Thus, work on other aspects of culture such as religion is needed given the emerging evidence that it may have an impact on development. This study explored the role of religious culture in the emerging adulthood of college students. Participants were 445 undergraduates (ages 18–20 years) from institutions that were Catholic (31 males, 89 females), Mormon (48 males, 200 females), and public (21 males, 56 females). Results found religious differences in (a) the criteria young people deemed necessary for adulthood, (b) the extent to which emerging adults felt they had achieved these criteria, (c) various aspects of spirituality including practices and beliefs, and (d) the behaviors in which emerging adults engage.

Original Publication Citation

Barry, C. M. & Nelson, L. J. (2005). The role of religion in the transition to adulthood for young emerging adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34, 245-255.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Youth and Adolescence




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor