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Religious Preferences is related to the following Theories:

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"Individual's evaluations of competing religious goods" (Sherkat, 1997:69). Religious preferences as a concept is used to explain why individuals participate in different religions and styles of religion. It seeks to answer why specific religious choices are made. Generally, religious preferences are adaptive, grow stronger with consumption, and can respond to new information (Sherkat, 1997:66). Individuals learn their preferences through socialization and past experiences; immersion in religious communities bring individuals to have particular religious understandings which give religion value (Sherkat, 1997:70).

Some possible operationalizations of religious preferences include how individuals view the Bible, God, or the path to salvation. Each of these are theological issues and serve as markers to what types of religious goods individuals prefer. Religious experience could also approximate the preferences individuals might have for religious goods. Some might desire an experiential faith while others do not.


a.) Barker, Eileen. 1984. The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers
b.) Durkin, J. T. and A. M. Greeley. 1991. "A model of religious choice under uncertainty: on responding rationally to the nonrational." Rationality and Society 3:178-96.
c.) Sherkat, D. E. 1997. "Embedding religious choices: integrating preferences and social constraints into rational choice theories of religious behavior." In Rational Choice Theory and Religion: Summary and Assessment, ed. LA Young, pp. 65-86. New York: Rout
d.) Sherkat, D. E. 1998. "Counterculture or continuity? Competing influences on baby boomers. Religious orientations and participation." Social Forces 76:1087-1115.
e.) Sherkat, D. E. and J. Wilson. 1995. "Preferences, constraints, and choices in religious markets: an examination of religious switching and apostasy." Social Forces 73:993-1026.

    Related Measures  
The following are possible measures of Religious Preferences that can be created using data from
Biblical Literalism
Measures how literally respondents read the Bible or other sacred scriptures.
  • BIBLE1: Variable 145 from General Social Survey, 2002
  • BIBLE1: Variable 146 from General Social Survey, 2004
  • BIBLE: Variable 151 from General Social Survey, 2006
  • INERRANT: Variable 175 from National Congregations Study, Cumulative Dataset (1998 and 2006-2007)
  • BIBLE: Variable 43 from International Social Survey Program: Religion II, 1998
  • Q20: Variable 57 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005
  • VCF0850: Variable 599 from American National Election Studies, Cumulative Data File, 1948-2004
  • SCRIPTUR: Variable 73 from Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals
  • Images of God
    Reveals how individuals conceive of God.
  • DESCGOD1: Variable 148 from Religion and Public Life Survey, 2001
  • MOTHFATH: Variable 149 from New Evangelical Movement Congregations, Pastors Survey, 1992
  • MAPA: Variable 165 from General Social Survey, 1990
  • IMAGAJUD: Variable 285 from Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life: Parishioners Sample, 1984
  • Q22A: Variable 59 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005
  • GODPRNTS: Variable 65 from International Social Survey Program: Religion II, 1998
  • Only one path to salvation
    Approximates the extent to which a respondent's religious beliefs about salvation are inclusive or exclusive of those unlike them.
  • AGSALVTN: Variable 104 from Presbyterian Panel Study, May 1997 - Nature and the Environment, Clergy
  • RLTVSM: Variable 133 from Presbyterian Panel Merged, 1994-1996
  • Q25: Variable 86 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005
  • Religious Experiences
    Respondents reveal whether or not they have had certain religious experiences.
  • REBORN: Variable 270 from General Social Survey, 2006
  • FEELGOD: Variable 396 from General Social Survey, 2004
  • TONGUES2: Variable 58 from Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals
  • Q28H: Variable 110 from Baylor Religion Survey, 2005

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