Rebecca Olson

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Aaron Metzger

Committee Co-Chair

Carol Markstrom

Committee Member

Julie Patrick


Religious behavior and spirituality have been consistently found to be associated with a host of positive youth outcomes including increased grade point average (Ferris, Oosterhoff, & Metzger, 2013) and community service (Paxton, Reith, & Glanville, 2014) and decreased substance use (Milot & Ludden, 2009). However, few studies have investigated how religious behavior and spirituality uniquely and interactively predict these outcomes, as well as how these associations vary across city and rural contexts. The current study sought to investigate how religious behavior and spirituality predict youth outcomes in both rural and city youth populations. Participants included 743 youth from a mid-sized University city community (n = 367) and rural community (n = 376) in a mid-Atlantic state (Mage= 15.87, 90% Caucasian, 44% male). Participants completed measures of religious behavior, spirituality, grade point average, community service, substance use, and basic demographic information. Results indicated that religious behavior was positively associated with GPA, but only for youth who were high in spirituality. Religious behavior was also positively associated with community service. Finally, religious behavior was positively associated with substance use for youth who lived in a city and were also low in spirituality.