Leaving Home for College and Its Effects on Religious Values
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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ARENA, C. A. (2001). Leaving Home for College and Its Effects on Religious Values. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 4. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved October 23, 2017 .

Leaving Home for College and Its Effects on Religious Values
CHERILYN A. ARENA
LOYOLA UNIVERSTY OF NEW ORLEANS PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (bhalla@loyno.edu)
ABSTRACT
Research was conducted to determine if there was a significant decline in religious values from leaving the parental home (high school) upon entering college. Fifty undergraduates living away from their parents were recruited on a voluntary basis and there were 30 men and 30 women. The questionnaire given to participants consisted of statements pertaining to their religious values regarding two time periods, high school and college. It was hypothesized that religious values would decline in individuals once leaving the parental home but results indicated that in most cases the religious values remained the same. Three statements showed a decline, one in particular was the attendance at a place of worship. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

INTRODUCTION
There is a saying passed down from generation to generation. "Home is where the heart is," and what was already placed in someone such as values was already said to be permanent and should not be removed. Religious values are placed on an individual as soon as they are born. You are placed in a specific denomination or church, and values are handed down from the parent. As infants, toddlers, and adolescents we were told to do what we were told and taking on the religious values of the parents is one of those things.When an individual began high school, he/she was still obeying their parents and attending church. If a teenager believed in something wrong he/she would be told that it was wrong. A teenager has no room to form their own identity, and are forced to believe and practice what their parents do. Even though teenagers do believe that they have their own values, these values tend to become their parents. With this in mind researchers have implied in their own research that there are actually changes in religious values during high school (Hunsberger, 1978). Hunsberger also concluded that individuals retain their religious values upon entering college. Now do these values really belong to the teenagers or to their parents? Upon entering college and leaving the home an individual is free to develop his/her own ideas, beliefs, and values. An individual begins to change emotionally and develops their identity. This is where the individual begins to push aside the values of the parent and start over. Some say once entering college a student can possibly become lazy (www.studentadvantage.com). Is it to say that they just don`t have the time to practice or hold on to their values and that is what brings on the change? In an opinion poll students stated that they were beginning to feel free from pressure and free from the links that bound them to their parents religious values (www.studentadvantage.com). In the same poll some students believed that they should have explored other religions on their own and should have made new values for themselves and if that meant changing previous values, not dealing with the ones they had, or even doing other things with their time instead of worrying about religion then that is what they will do. In college students tended to become more liberal and skeptical about their parents values and started exploring other options (Feldman, 1969). In this review by Feldman, he reviewed several surveys with thousands of participants and all reached the same conclusion that there were significant decreases in religious values once an individual went to college. Feldman also viewed the different types of social structures with in colleges, environmental aspects, faculty, and pressures, which can all contribute to changes in religious valuesAnother aspect to take into account is the living arrangements an individual decides to choose once entering college (Feldman, 1969). Percentages of men and their religious values differed with their living arrangements, fraternity men living on campus having never prayed while in college was 33%, dormitory men having never prayed while in college was also 33%. Compared to fraternity men living on campus who have prayed which was 2% and dormitory men living on campus who have prayed was 21% (Feldman, 1969). This study shows that living arrangements do play a role in religious practices. Feldman also shares some views with other researchers, stating that friends and extracurricular activities can effect the individual`s religious values (Madsen & Vernon, 1983). The activities with friends and extracurricular activities can shift a person`s point of view and make them see things in a different way (Madsen & Vernon, 1983). Madsen and Vernon, 1983 also look at: due to some factors one can become skeptical about God and the church and this will place a decline in religious values. A questionnaire was mailed out to one hundred thirty four participants before entering college and another mailed to the same individuals while they were later attending college. The questionnaire consisted of different scales, which showed there was a seventy seven percent decrease in religious values over the four-year period of the study. One scale used was Thurson & Chave`s scale, which showed the most significant decrease in the religious values.When entering college an individual feels liberated and develops their identity away from the parental influences (Hunsberger, 1976). This study by Hunsberger leads to the relationship of leaving home for college and the decline in religious values by placing emphasis on parental orientation and denomination. The study concluded that there were significant amounts of individuals having a decrease in their religious values once entering college. Being pushed into something as a child and teenager was what was to be the cause of the decline in religious values and liberated the college students (Hunsberger, 1976).Another study conducted, stated that religious values declined among college students due to their parents not the pressures of their parents. It was quite possible that due to the lack of parental influences upon leaving home the decline in religious values is inevitable (Richards, 1991). Richards discusses the emotional disturbances an individual goes through once entering college, which can lead to a decline in religious values. Students who tend to lose their religious beliefs tend to become emotionally distraught due to the separation from the parents (Richards, 1991). Upon entering college, religious values from the parental home are rejected by many individuals (Hastings & Hoge, 1976). A questionnaire was given to over two hundred students over a period from 1948 to 1974, the questionnaire contained statements pertaining to home religion and do the participants` beliefs compare to their parents beliefs. There was a significant decline in religious values over the period of time (Hastings & Hoge, 1976). Past research stated here can be linked to the current research due to the fact that each study conducted pertains to the decline of religious values from either lack of parental influences, feeling liberated for the first time of their lives, leaving high school, or being in a different living arrangement such as on campus dorms. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was any correlation between leaving home for college and the decline in religious values. It was hypothesized that religious values would decline once a student left the home for college, and due to the lack of parental influence the college student was able to explore and develop their own values based on new experiences. The study measured change in values from high school to college upon leaving the home. The values were based on simple statements within a questionnaire pertaining to the student`s creator, beliefs of prayer, and so on.


METHOD
ParticipantsParticipants were 50 undergraduate students from Loyola University New Orleans. There were no biases toward race, sex, class status, or religious denomination. Individuals were recruited on a voluntary basis, being asked to fill out a sign in sheet with designated times for the individuals convenience. Some students for an Introductory Psychology class were given class credit for their participation. One restriction did apply when students were recruited, living status. Individuals living in the parental home were excluded from the research because it called for those specifically living away from the parental home. Announcements were made in numerous classes as well as out of class. The study used a non-probability convenience sample. Materials Materials that were used consisted of pencils and consent forms, one for the participants and one for the researchers, a questionnaire, and an informational form for the participant to return to their psychology instructor for credit (credit slip). The questionnaire was devised by the researchers (See Appendix A), which consisted of 15 statements that related to their high school values as well as their college values. With regard to the two time periods, high school and college, the directions contained boldface type for the participants to comprehend that one questionnaire was for high school and one was for college (See Appendix A). The statements were rated on a simple scale of one through four with one being not a value and four being strongly valued (See Appendix A).Design and Procedure The design of the study was within subjects design because it viewed religious values of one individual regarding two time periods. The research was conducted to see if a relationship existed between leaving home and entering college and the decline in religious values from high school. The variables were high school religious values and college religious values, which were measured using a two-sample dependent t test.Controls consisted of one standard classroom used as the testing site. The temperature was set comfortably and there were no extraneous variables to distract the participants. Upon arriving at the testing location, participants were asked to take a seat and were handed a pencil, informed consent, questionnaire, and credit slip. The first form filled out was the informed consent, which contained two copies, one or the participant and one for the researchers. Participants were then asked to read the directions on the questionnaire along with the researchers to ensure that there were not any misunderstandings of how to answer the statements. Participants then filled out the questionnaire. Once all questionnaires were completed the participants were debriefed being informed that the study was to measure the relationship between leaving home for college and the decline in religious values. They were also informed that the information given to the researchers was going to remain confidential. Finally they were thanked and dismissed.


RESULTS
A two-sample dependent groups t-test was used to compare the means of religious values and to see if there was a significant decline in those values from high school (M=2.93, SD=.99) to college (M=2.82, SD=1.02) of 50 individuals. The overall results showed (t(49)=.88, p=.45) that there was no significant decline in religious values from high school upon entering college. Three statements within the questionnaire did have a significant decline. The first pertained to attending worship services, (M=2.82, SD=1.21) ,(t (49)=2.84, p= .007). The next decline pertained to depending on a "supreme being," (M=3.28, SD=.93), (t (49)=2.19, p= .033). The third statement that showed a decline pertained to believing if there was a religious dichotomy between good and evil, (M=3.12, SD=.94), (t (49)=2.112, p= .040).


DISCUSSION
The results of the study did not support the hypothesis of religious values declining when leaving home and going to college away from the parents. Although there were some specific items that did have a significant decline: attendance at worship services, feeling dependent upon a supreme being, and believing in a religious dichotomy: good vs. evil. Madsen and Vernon (1983) conducted a similar study where individual`s religious values were measured with regard to the same two-time periods. Their study concluded that there was an overall significant decline in religious values where the current study showed a decline in a few areas. Madsen and Vernon (1983) did take into account four years difference where this study was given to the individual in college and asked to remember their religious values from high school and to also consider their present religious values. Even though it is an opinion poll, studentadvantage.com (2001), reveals in detail what a college student is feeling when leaving their parents home and entering college. A large number of the responses explain that there is a decline in religious values, like the present study most of the responses dealt with attendance of worship services. Students say they feel liberated from their parents, lazy and have better things to do with their time than attending churches, synagogues, or wherever one may attend worship services. Hastings and Hoge (1976) looked at the institutional aspect of religions and they concluded that there was an overall significant decline. Taken into account was a period from 1948 to 1974 of the participants beliefs and their parents beliefs and the students decline in religious values from that of their parents. The current study did find that there was a significant decline in the attendance of worship services (institutional aspect) of religions also. Hunsberger (1976) put emphasis on the parental denomination as well as feeling liberated from ones parents. He concluded that there was a significant decline in religious values due to these factors. Individuals recorded that they felt pushed into something that did not involve them. The current study did not view the emphasis on parental influences per say, but it looked at the individual leaving the parental home. With Feldman`s (1969) research, there was a broader look at different variables that may interfere with a college student: social structures, pressures from faculty and peers, as well as specific religious denominations. The current study did not take into account other aspects of a college student`s priorities, such as the pressures and social structure. This study only wanted to see if there was an overall decline in religious values with individuals living away from the parental home. Feldman (1969) did measure a small number of individuals who had various living arrangements: fraternities and dormitories, but did not view those who may have lived in an apartment off campus away from the parents as the current study did. Speaking of pressures, one would think that being away from parental influences could lead to overall decline from social and religious devoutness as Richards(1991) researched. The current study concluded that there were no overall decline in religious values, not being sure of social devoutness for this study did not look at any emotional aspects of the participant. Something interesting to this study is that Richards (1991) did look to see if the subjects believed in a supreme being. Students who said that they were anti-religious stated that they did believe in a supreme being, which is some what contradictly and gives the term anti-religious a new meaning: nontraditional religious students who are reacting to what they were taught. Hunsberger`s (1978) results concluded that there were religious values instilled in the individual before entering college. This is quite possibly the reason why the current study did not show a significant decline in religious values. Individuals may have already created their own values and are sticking with them. The study did measure what it was suppose to measure, religious values, and it was considered to be reliable (alpha=.9309). There were some problems with this study: individuals participating in the study did have minor problems while filing out the questionnaire. The individuals began before the instructions were read to them from the researchers, which caused some of the participants to go back and change their responses. This could have caused the individual to leave the wrong response or even change the correct response initially intended. Some statements were not understandable and had to be explained to the participants in order the respond such as, the creator being appealed (the highest being). It is said that some individuals choose to send their children to a religious university so that their child may receive the proper education with the proper religious background (studentadvantage.com). This study demonstrates that upon entering a religious by affiliated college, parents do not have to worry about their children turning into an atheist or realizing that they are practicing the wrong religion. The individual will enter college and retain their religious values. This study has several limitations and needs much improvement. Although participants were selected randomly they had to live outside of the parental home either on campus or an apartment off campus. The researchers could have used a questionnaire already devised by other researchers instead of creating their own to measure religious values. One improvement that could have been done, the researchers could have looked at the differences in age. There could have been a significant decline among younger individuals entering college rather than those a bit older entering college. Younger individuals are more prone to influences than older individuals. Sex could have played a larger role in selecting the participants for this study as well. Religious values possibly differ in men and women and there could have been a decline in religious values among women and men`s religious values could have increased. It is also possible that it may be the other way around. Another comparison such as religious denomination could have been studied. The researchers could have looked to see if Catholic individuals had a decline in religious values rather than Protestant or Islamic individuals and so on. Religious universities and public universities could have been variables possibly having differences in declining religious values. Once entering a public university, values can decline significantly than those who enter a religious university and vice versa. While the current study looked at individuals who lived away from the parental home, being on campus or apartment off campus, there could have been a comparison to those who still live in the parental home. There are so many aspects this study did not take into account and should have to get possible better results or a broader range of results.


REFERENCES
Feldman, K. A. (1969). Change and stability of religious orientations during college, part II social structural correlations. Review of Religious Research, 11, 40-60.Hastings, P. K. & Hoge, D. R. (1976). Changes in religion among college students, 1948-1974. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 15, 237-249.Hunsberger, B. (1976). Background religious denomination, parental emphasis, and the religious orientation of university students. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 15, 251-253.Hunsberger, B. (1978). The religiosity of college students: stability and change over years at university. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 17, 159-164.Madsen, G. E. & Vernon, G. M. (1983). Maintaining the faith during college: a study of campus religious group participation. Review of Religious Research, 25, 127-141.Richards, P. S. (1991). Religious devoutness in college students: relations with emotional adjustment and psychological separation from parents. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38,189-196.Student Advantage (November 2000). Is it possible to hold on to religious beliefs in college. Retrieved February 2001 from Religion & Spirituality database on the World Wide Web: http//discuss.studentadvantage.com/wwwthreads.pl?Y=cl-i0-t0.


APPENDIX
Directions:In this questionnaire you will be asked to compare your religious values from high school to your values while you are in college. The questionnaire will consist of the same questions for both time periods. You will be asked to rate your religious values on a simple scale from one to four with one being not a value and four being strongly valued. Simply circle the answer that honestly reflects your values.

High School Values:Not A Value(1), Somewhat Value(2), Value(3), Strongly Valued(4)

1. My creator is appealed.1 2 3 4

2. My creator is the creator of the universe.1 2 3 4

3. My creator is expressed through nature. 1 2 3 4

4. Regularly attend my place of worship. 1 2 3 4

5. Praying/meditation is important. 1 2 3 4

6. Pray/meditate on a daily basis. 1 2 3 4 7. Revere your creator as a savior, the enlightened one, etc. 1 2 3 4 8. Depend upon a supreme being. 1 2 3 4

9. Reading religious material is important. 1 2 3 4

10. Follow religious doctrine. 1 2 3 4

11. Place of worship is an institution for bettering humanity. 1 2 3 4

12. Respect religious authority. 1 2 3 4 13. We are immortal beings, otherwise life is meaningless. 1 2 3 4

14. Believe in life after death. 1 2 3 4

15. Believe there is a religious dichotomy between good and evil. 1 2 3 4

College Values: Not A Value(1), Somewhat Value(2), Value(3), Strongly Value(4) 1. My creator is appealed. 1 2 3 4 2. My creator is the creator of the universe. 1 2 3 4 3. My creator is expressed through nature. 1 2 3 4 4. Regularly attend my place of worship. 1 2 3 4 5. Praying/meditation is important. 1 2 3 4 6. Pray/meditate on a daily basis. 1 2 3 4 7. Revere your creator as a savior, the enlightened one, etc. 1 2 3 4

8. Depend upon a supreme being. 1 2 3 4 9. Reading religious material is important. 1 2 3 4 10. Follow religious doctrine. 1 2 3 4 11. Place of worship is an institution for bettering humanity. 1 2 3 4

12. Respect religious authority. 1 2 3 4 13. We are immortal beings, otherwise life is meaningless. 1 2 3 4

14. Believe in life after death. 1 2 3 4 15. Believe there is a religious dichotomy between good and evil. 1 2 3 4

Age:________Sex: M / FClass Standing: Fr. / Sph. / Jr. / Sr.

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