Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Examining the covariance of religious and political beliefs within individuals and across generations

Amanda Balzer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The political and religious are demonstrably intertwined in American politics and within the preferences of individual citizens. This dissertation has attempted to examine possible theoretical reasons for the overlap and sources of development of these belief systems within individuals and across generations. In sum, different Moral Foundations are associated with different preferences for organizing society and approaching religion; grandparents, parents and children share many political and religious beliefs, though not all Moral Foundations; and genetics influence part of the variance on religious and political preferences and part of their overlap is due to a shared genetic path. Most scholarship exploring the nature of religious and political beliefs divide the world into political liberals and conservatives or religious modernists and traditionalists, but this dissertation suggests there may be an even broader orientation that shapes the lens through which individuals view the world. Whether this orientation is socialized, heritable or a combination of both, understanding that moral decisions and political and religious preferences shape and are shaped by this orientation may help explain the "culture wars" in American society (Hunter 1991). Investigating this psychology behind political and religious ideologies will provide better insight into the reasons people believe and act the way they do as well as understanding the stability of beliefs across generations and, therefore, of the relative intractability of people's positions on controversial issues.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Balzer, Amanda, "Examining the covariance of religious and political beliefs within individuals and across generations" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3503985.