Religion as a resource for positive youth development: religion, social capital, and moral outcomes

Dev Psychol. 2004 Sep;40(5):703-13. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.40.5.703.


Although existing literature demonstrates that developmental benefits are associated with religion for adolescents, little is understood about the dynamics of this relationship. Drawing on social capital theory, this study tested a conceptual model exploring socially embedded religious influences on moral outcomes. A three-dimensional model of social capital demonstrated how social interaction, trust, and shared vision enable social ties associated with religiousness to influence moral behavior. Structural equation modeling was used with data gathered from 735 urban youths to test a proposed model of the effects of religiousness on moral outcomes. Results suggested that religiously active youths report higher levels of social capital resources and that the influence of adolescent religiousness on moral outcomes was mediated through social capital resources. Suggestions for further research and implications for faith-based youth development organizations are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Moral Development*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Reinforcement, Social
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Social Identification