Multidimensional patterns of adolescent religiosity and associations with sexual behaviors and romantic relationships


Vasilenko, Sara & Espinosa-Hernandez, Graciela (2018). Multidimensional patterns of adolescent religiosity and associations with sexual behaviors and romantic relationships. Society for Research on Adolescence. Minneapolis, MN.


Introduction: Religiosity is associated with sexual behavior in adolescence; however, religiosity is a multidimensional construct, and it is not clear how varying patterns of religiosity may differentially predict sexual behaviors and romantic relationships. Method: We apply latent class analysis to nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 10,149; 52.8% female, 20.1% African American, 16.0% Hispanic/Latino, 6.5% Asian, 2.3% other race/ethnicity Mage at Wave I = 15.6, SD = 1.5) to examine a) what religiosity profiles exist among adolescents and b) how they predict sexual behavior and romantic relationship status in adolescence and young adulthood. Indicators of religiosity class membership from Wave I included measures of affiliation, beliefs, importance of religion, prayer, and religious service attendance. We examined sexual behavior and romantic relationships outcomes at Wave II (1 year later) and Wave III (6 years later). Results: Based on fit statistics, we selected a 5-class model: Multidimensional Religious (48%), Privately Religious (27%), Not Religious (13%), Religious in Name Only (9%) and Publicly Religious (3%). Membership in the Multidimensional Religious class was generally more protective against sexual behavior both in adolescence and young adulthood compared to profiles marked by only affiliation, private, or public religiosity. Similar results were found for adolescent romantic relationship outcomes; however, in young adulthood, being in the Privately Religious and In Name Only classes was also associated with lesser odds of cohabitation. Discussion. Findings suggest that many adolescents are high on multiple dimensions of religiosity, but patterns marked by endorsement of only some of the religiosity domains were also present. In addition, these patterns differentially predict sexual behavior and romantic relationship outcomes, and being high in multiple dimensions of religiosity is uniquely protective. Findings have implications for theory building and can spur future research on the exact mechanisms by which religiosity and sexual behavior are associated.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Society for Research on Adolescence


Vasilenko, Sara
Espinosa-Hernandez, Graciela

Year Published


City of Publication

Minneapolis, MN

Reference ID