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Identities in Everyday Life$
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Jan E. Stets and Richard T. Serpe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190873066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190873066.001.0001

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Authenticity and the Religious Identity

Authenticity and the Religious Identity

(p.75) 5 Authenticity and the Religious Identity
Identities in Everyday Life

Philip S. Brenner

Oxford University Press

This chapter reports the findings of a study comparing the association of religious behavior with two identity-related concepts, testing their potential as a source of survey response bias in the self-reported measure of religious attendance. Religious identity prominence is defined as the value one places on one’s religious identity. Respondents with prominent religious identities interpret the religious attendance question in a way that allows them to report on their self-view as religious people rather than on their religious behavior. Religious authenticity is defined as the desire to be and be seen as who one “really is.” Respondents are motivated to demonstrate their authentic religious selves by reporting that they are the “kind of person” who attends. Results suggest that religious identity prominence, but not religious authenticity, positively influences reports of religious attendance. These findings shed light on the potential sources of error in survey measures of religious attendance and ways we might avoid them in the future.

Keywords:   authenticity, church attendance, identity, identity prominence, identity salience, measurement, religion, religious identity, self-esteem, survey research

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