In this research we addressed 3 questions: (a) In what ways are Christians who do not attend church different from Christians who do? (b) Can we predict which church-attending Christians will later stop going to church? (c) Can we predict which Christians will eventually leave their faith altogether? Large-sample longitudinal research on psychological predictors of religious transition is rare. To fill this gap, a 3-wave prospective study was conducted on 932 Chinese Christians. Compared with church-attending Christians, unchurched Christians scored lower on extroversion and agreeableness. They tended to believe that people’s destiny was determined by fate. On the second research question, longitudinal analysis indicated that the church-attending Christians who would later exit the church were less extroverted, less conscientious, and higher on intellect (openness to experience). They endorsed fatalistic beliefs, and placed higher value on power (i.e., social status and dominance over people). Moreover, the churches that they had attended were usually smaller in size than those of the ones who remained in church. On the third research question, we found that a person who had not been attending church, who was a full-time university student, and who scored low on extroversion, and high on the values of self-direction, stimulation, and power was more likely to leave their faith. This study extends previous cross-sectional findings on the relationship of religiosity to personality and personal values, and demonstrates temporal precedence of certain personality and value constructs over church attendance and steadfastness in faith. Copyright © 2015 American Psychological Association.
|Journal||Psychology of Religion and Spirituality|
|Early online date||Apr 2015|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2015|