Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Alice Carter


Past literature is ambiguous regarding relationships among different religious variables and prejudice. The purpose of this study was to clarify complicated relationships among religious pressures, religious fundamentalism, Christian orthodoxy, intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation, quest orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, and the outcome variables of racial prejudice, homophobia, and sexism. Two models, a developmental model and social learning model, were proposed in this study and were tested using structural-equation modeling. Participants were 310 self-identified Christian students. Several predicted paths were deleted in both models because they did not contribute to good fit. Three predictor variables: Christian orthodoxy, extrinsic religious orientation, and religious fundamentalism were deleted from the models due to high collinearity. The outcome variable of sexism was deleted because of low loading. Quest orientation was deleted due to opposing regression weights with intrinsic orientation. When goodness-of-fit statistics for both models were compared, the developmental model displayed slightly better fit than the social learning model. Overall, the social learning model displayed poor fit. These results indicated that individually neither religious pressures nor intrinsic religious orientation are individually sufficient to lead to prejudice. In fact, religious pressures led to racism and homophobia through intrinsic religious orientation and right-wing authoritarianism. In the social learning model right-wing authoritarianism was directly and indirectly related to homophobia and racism. The results of this study contradict and parallel past studies. Many of the results could be explained by the current culture in the United States, which has been greatly polarized by social and political issues. Research in cognitive schemas may also prove to be valuable because templates have been suggested as a factor in prejudice. Future research should include further examination of relationships between religious, social, and personality variables in addition to possible neurological factors that might predispose one to develop certain religious orientations and personality dispositions.