Spiritual and religious beliefs and behaviour: data collected from 27/28-year-old offspring in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, 2019-2020

Yasmin L Iles-Caven *, Iain R Bickerstaffe, Kate Northstone, Jean Golding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Religious/spiritual belief and practices have sometimes been demonstrated to have positive associations with outcomes such as coping with serious illness, anxiety, depression, negative life events and general well-being, and therefore warrants consideration in many facets of health research. For example, increasing secularisation
evidenced, particularly in the West, may reflect increasing rates of depression and anxiety.
Very few studies have charted the ways in which religious/spiritual beliefs and practices of parents and their offspring vary longitudinally or between generations. Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is one such study that can relate belief and practices with aspects of physical and mental health and/or distinguish the different facets of the environment that may influence the development, or inter-generational loss, of belief and behaviours. This paper describes the 2019-2020 data collection in the ALSPAC on the religious/spiritual beliefs and behaviours (RSBB) of the study offspring (born 1991/1992) at ages 27-28 years. Previously collected and new data on the offspring are described here and comparisons are made with identical data completed by their parents (mothers and
their partners) in early 2020.
The most striking observations are that in almost all aspects of RSBB the offspring of both sexes are more secular, especially when compared with their mothers. For example, 56.2% of offspring state that they do not believe in God, or a divine power compared with 26.6% of mothers and 45.3% of mothers’ partners. When asked about their type of religion, 65.4% of participants stated ‘none’, compared with 27.2% of mothers and 40.2% of partners. This confirms previous research reporting increasing secularisation from one generation to the next. As with the mothers and their partners, female offspring were more likely than males to believe in a divine power and to practice their beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWellcome Open Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2021

Structured keywords

  • ALSPAC

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