Religious diversity and change in American social networks: How our social connections shape religious beliefs and behavior

A fairly wide ranging survey. One aspect that stood out to me was:

Religious Americans whose immediate social circle includes members of other faiths, or none at all, express less certainty about their own religious beliefs. Conversely, Americans who have less religiously diverse social networks report having fewer doubts about their belief in God. This pattern is remarkably consistent across religious traditions.


This suggests that religion is maintained primarily by peer pressure.


I don’t know if I’d phrase it as “peer pressure”. ‘Group think’ or ‘peer reinforcement’ might be better descriptors. It’s far easier not to doubt if nobody in your immediate circle (who are likely to be among those whose opinions you place the most trust in) holds a contrary opinion. Out of sight, out of mind.


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