Download Poster (474 KB)


The development of an individual’s beliefs about God is significantly influenced by teachings of parents. However, not all children have the exact same beliefs as their parents. The present study will examine what may be the characteristics of individual who have similar or differing beliefs than those to which they were exposed as a child.

Although not identical to a “belief in God”, much of the past research evaluating belief systems has focused primarily of “religiosity”. Caldwell-Harris (2012) noted that openness to experience was the personality characteristic that differed most between the religious and non-religious respondents. Even controlling for education, gender, marriage, and child rearing openness remained, the strongest predictor of both lower religious belief and membership. In a study by Luke and Kim (2011) compared religious and views on strength of beliefs and found that even people who are not religious can hold very strong views and stick to these opinions avidly.

While several have studied relationship of personality and relition, few have evaluated the origins of those ideas, i.e., how beliefs may have changed since childhood. Arnett, Jensen (2002) studied religious socialization and found that beliefs in emerging adulthood show an increase in a skeptical view of religious institutions.

The adult’s beliefs about God, therefore, would seem to be a combination of the set of ideas taught by the parent and the personality characteristic of the adult child which have allowed the individual to retain or migrate away from those teaching. It is hypothesized that adults who score high in Openness are more likely to have a different set of beliefs than those which where taught to them as a child.

Methodology includes online data collection of demographics, measures parents and children’s beliefs, and the Big Five personality inventory. Results will be available in April 2017.



Faculty Advisor

Ian Madfes, Ph.D.

Publication Date

Spring 2017


San Rafael


Social Psychology

Relationship of the Openness Personality Trait and Development of Belief in God