Title page for ETD etd-05132014-145211

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Holmes, Christopher Joseph
Author's Email Address Holmes11@vt.edu
URN etd-05132014-145211
Title Differing Religious Motivations are associated with Adolescent Health Behavior through Self-regulation
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jungmeen Kim-Spoon Committee Chair
Julie Dunsmore Committee Member
Kirby Deater-Deckard Committee Member
  • Health Behavior
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Religiousness
Date of Defense 2014-04-30
Availability unrestricted
Previous literature has widely demonstrated the physical and mental benefits of

religiousness. However, how religiousness benefits health is not as well known. It has

been proposed that self-regulation is the linking mechanism and the current study sought

to confirm this theory. Furthermore, religious motivation has been found to have

differential effects on a variety of outcomes. The current study hypothesized that higher

identification as religious motivation is linked to higher health-promoting behavior and

lower health-risk behavior through higher self-regulation, which was composed of

behavioral, emotional, and cognitive regulation. It was also hypothesized that higher

introjection as religious motivation is linked to lower health-promoting behavior and

higher health-risk behavior through lower self-regulation. The current sample included

220 adolescents (mean age = 15 years, 55% male) and their primary caregivers. This

study’s findings clarified that the motivation to be religious is critical when considering

health benefits as it predicts health outcomes distinctly from only religiousness in general

and self-regulation mediates this relation. Specifically, higher identification was related

to higher self-regulation and subsequently lower health-risk behavior, whereas

introjection was linked to lower self-regulation and subsequently higher health-risk

behavior. However, when health-promoting behaviors, such as exercise or brushing teeth,

were considered, the relation did not exist. In addition, non-significant interaction effects

between identification and introjection indicated that these effects are only additive in

nature. The current findings are particularly important by providing information about

protective factors for risk taking behavior during adolescence, a developmental period

associated with greater risk taking behavior.

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