Indicators of the Right-to-Lifer

Rachael Erter, University of South Florida
John K. Cochran, University of South Florida

While previous research has examined the effects of religion and/or religiosity on attitudes towards suicide, euthansia, capital punishment, or abortion, these dependent variables have yet to be addressed as a single measure of 'right-to-life' attitudes. Therefore, this study will assess the relationship between religiosity, religion, and right-to-life attitudes.

The difference between religion and religiosity is subtle but important. Religion is a nominal measure that refers to an individual's self-identified faith group membership such as Catholic or Jewish. Faith groups vary in the level of conservatism; thus, religion, as an independent variable, is sensitive to these differences and in an analysis should be grouped according to levels of conservatism rather than as a dummy variable (faith group membership vs. no faith group membership). Religiosity, on the other hand, is usually a scaled measure of an individual's strength in attitudes and behaviors toward their religion. For example, a person who frequently attends church and believes strongly in its teachings will be higher in religiosity than an individual who rarely attends church and waives in his/her beliefs.

Data from the NORC General Social Survey (GSS) for the years 1994-2002 will be used to analyze this presentation. The year 1994 is used as a cut off point for the data since this is when the GSS switched from an annual to a biennial survey with two surveys given for 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002. Each survey contains approximately 1500 cases which gives a maximum of 15,000 cases. The final 'n', however, will be significantly less than this maximum due to missing and unusable values. Additionally, the participants for each survey are drawn by a full probability sample of all English-speaking individuals who are 18 or over, living in the United States, and are non-institutionalized.

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Updated 05/20/2006