Why are women more religious than men? Testing the explanatory power of personality theory among undergraduate students in Wales

Gemma Penny, Leslie J. Francis*, Mandy Robbins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study tests the explanatory power of personality-based psychologically grounded theories to account for the well-established finding within the psychology of religion that within Christian and post-Christian contexts women are more religious than men. A sample of 1682 undergraduate students in Wales completed the short form of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Revised together with the adult form of the Francis Scale of Attitude towards Christianity and measures of frequency of church attendance, and frequency of personal prayer. These data confirm that women record higher levels of religiosity and lower levels of psychoticism, and demonstrate that psychoticism is the strongest predictor of individual differences in religiosity. Multiple-regression analyses show that, when individual differences in personality are taken into account, biological sex adds no further impact on religiosity. This finding suggests that higher levels of religiosity among women may be interpreted as a function of basic psychological differences in levels of psychoticism rather than as a sociological function of being female.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-502
Number of pages11
JournalMental Health, Religion and Culture
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Eysenck
  • personality
  • religion
  • sex differences

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