Personal Religious Practice, Risky Behavior, and Implementation Intentions Among Adolescents

Patrick McNamara, James P. Burns, Patricia Johnson, Brian H. McCorkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The benefits of religiousness for promoting well-being and avoiding risky behaviors has long been noted, especially for adolescents, but a precise understanding of the mechanism underlying this effect on risky behaviors has not yet been developed. We hypothesized that religious practices help religious adolescents form implementation intentions (IIs) when pursuing decisions and goals to avoid risky behaviors. We predicted that participants with higher rates of private religious practice would generate greater numbers and higher quality IIs to avoid risky behaviors relative to other participants. In this preliminary exploration, 50 college students completed assessments of private religious practices, risk-benefit evaluations about risky scenarios, and the number and quality of IIs they could generate to avoid risk in those scenarios. Results supported our predictions: After controlling for age and gender, participants who engaged more frequently in private religious practice were able to generate both more and higher quality IIs about avoiding risky scenarios. This provides initial support for the hypothesis that religiousness may protect against risky behaviors by enhancing the abilities of religious adolescents to form IIs to avoid risky behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • implementation intentions
  • religious practices
  • religiousness
  • risky behaviors


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