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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Unformatted Document Text:  Religion, Communication, and Social Capital --8-- interactions. Given this uncertainty surrounding the relationship between religion’s associational dimension and indicators of social capital, we decided in this study to pose the following narrowly defined research questions: R1a: What are the direct effects of the associational dimension of religion, including church attendance and church-based networks, on social trust? R1b: What are the indirect effects of the associational dimension of religion on social trust through other endogenous variables? R1c: What are the direct effects of the associational dimension of religion on political trust? R1d: What are the indirect effects of the associational dimension of religion on political trust through other endogenous variables? Effects of Religious Belief. The individual-level cognitive variable related to religion that is highly relevant to social capital is biblical belief, or the level of adherence to literal interpretations of the Bible. The influence of deeply held biblical beliefs can be viewed as paralleling theorizing on fatalistic worldviews (e.g., Lerner, 1980), closed-mindedness (Rokeach, 1960), and dogmatism (Rokeach, 1954). Specifically, a literal interpretation of scripture emphasizes a relatively closed cognitive organization of worldviews that are based on a central personal commitment to an absolute and divine authority. Previous research and theorizing suggests that these beliefs likely provide a framework for cognitive processes that undermine efficacy and sponsor distrust. For example, strong religious beliefs, like church attendance, have been shown consistently to be negatively related to tolerance of individuals or other groups (Allport, 1966; Allport and Ross, 1967), and therefore are likely to be negatively related to generalized social trust. In another study, to the degree that strong religious beliefs may be conceptually similar to

Authors: Nisbet, Matthew., Moy, Patricia. and Scheufele, Dietram.
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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
--8--
interactions. Given this uncertainty surrounding the relationship between religion’s associational
dimension and indicators of social capital, we decided in this study to pose the following
narrowly defined research questions:
R1a: What are the direct effects of the associational dimension of religion, including
church attendance and church-based networks, on social trust?
R1b: What are the indirect effects of the associational dimension of religion on social
trust through other endogenous variables?

R1c: What are the direct effects of the associational dimension of religion on political
trust?

R1d: What are the indirect effects of the associational dimension of religion on political
trust through other endogenous variables?
Effects of Religious Belief. The individual-level cognitive variable related to religion that
is highly relevant to social capital is biblical belief, or the level of adherence to literal
interpretations of the Bible. The influence of deeply held biblical beliefs can be viewed as
paralleling theorizing on fatalistic worldviews (e.g., Lerner, 1980), closed-mindedness (Rokeach,
1960), and dogmatism (Rokeach, 1954). Specifically, a literal interpretation of scripture
emphasizes a relatively closed cognitive organization of worldviews that are based on a central
personal commitment to an absolute and divine authority. Previous research and theorizing
suggests that these beliefs likely provide a framework for cognitive processes that undermine
efficacy and sponsor distrust.
For example, strong religious beliefs, like church attendance, have been shown
consistently to be negatively related to tolerance of individuals or other groups (Allport, 1966;
Allport and Ross, 1967), and therefore are likely to be negatively related to generalized social
trust. In another study, to the degree that strong religious beliefs may be conceptually similar to


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