Revisiting Risk: Sensation-Seeking and the Sex Difference in Religiosity

Master's Thesis


Accounting for the sex difference in religiosity has centered recently on a problematic risk-management thesis. I concur that risk is indeed importantÌ¢âÂ"but primarily as a signal of an underlying semi-heritable trait called sensation-seeking. This trait directly contributes to, and is antecedent to, risk preference and assessment. Sensation-seekers take risks to gain new, varied, and novel experiences, which are often lacking in religious settings. Using direct measures from the 2006 Panel Study on American Religion and Ethnicity, I find that enjoying thrilling and frightening sensations and experiences has a direct negative effect on personal religiosity. Sensation-seeking also somewhat mediates the effect of biological sex on religiosity. These two effects provide plausible support for the partial-heritability thesis and demonstrate that biology and personality influence personal religiosity.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-12142010-155652

Author Daniel F Escher
Advisor Christian Smith
Contributor Kraig Beyerlein, Committee Member
Contributor Jessica Collett, Committee Member
Contributor Christian Smith, Committee Chair
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2010-07-12

Submission Date 2010-12-14
  • United States of America

  • Religiosity

  • risk

  • sensation-seeking

  • gender

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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