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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: September 2012

14 - Attachment and Religious Development in Adolescence The Implications of Culture

from Part Four - Socialization Processes of Values and Religion in Adolescent Development



In this attachment-theoretical chapter, I highlight relations between attachment and religious development in adolescence, while taking cultural implications into account. I argue that adolescence is a sensitive phase of development related to both attachment and religiosity. This period is often associated with transfer of attachment functions from parents to age-mates. In the religious realm, this period may be linked to either increased religiosity (e.g., conversion) or to disengagement from religion. During adolescence, an attachment-like relationship with God may also develop. Furthermore, on the basis of empirical studies, I discuss the implications of individual differences in attachment security for religious development in adolescence. I distinguish between two notable developmental pathways: secure attachment to religious caregivers as a basis for religious stability (“correspondence pathway”) and insecure attachment to caregivers as a basis of distress regulation through religion (“compensation pathway”). In the first case, believers are more likely to experience well-being; in the latter case, religion may serve as a protective factor in development. I also take into account possible negative effects of religion on adjustment. Finally, I discuss the cultural generalizability versus specificity of each of the central arguments in the chapter.

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