interpersonal relationships, character development, religious values and practices, perspective, peace of mind, spiritual connections, family, negative experiences


The purpose of the present study was to investigate lay conceptions of religious influence. Specifically, we explored adolescents' and parents' perceptions of the ways in which their religious beliefs and practices had impacted them and their life. The sample included 419 adolescents and 282 parents recruited from across the United States through an online survey panel. Participants were asked to list three different ways that religion had influenced their lives. Responses were coded using grounded-theory qualitative methods. Six main themes of influence emerged in both the adolescent and parent responses: Interpersonal Relationships, Character Development, Religious Values and Practices, Perspective, Peace of Mind, and Spiritual Connections. The parents had two additional categories that focused on the themes of Family and Negative Experiences. Looking at similarities across themes, responses seemed to indicate that people broadly perceive religion to guide them in interpersonal relationships, life decisions, and character development. While these findings are largely congruent with prior theory and research, they suggest a greater emphasis should be placed on empirically examining the role of religiousness in interpersonal relationships.

Original Publication Citation

McMurdie, C. A., Dollahite, D. C., & Hardy, S. A. (2013). Adolescent and parent perceptions of the influence of religious belief and practice. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 32, 192-205.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Psychology and Christianity




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor