Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education
Belief in Dialogue, AULRE Annual Conference
1 – 3 September 2015,St. Mary’s University Twickenham
University of Warwick
Director of the St Mary’s Centre
Growing up with beliefs in dialogue: assessing the evidence for the quantitative strand of the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project
The Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project, conducted by the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit in the University of Warwick within the AHRC-ESRC Religion and Society programme, combined both qualitative and quantitative strands. This presentation draws together and assesses the findings from the seventeen papers so far prepared for publication within the quantitative strand.
The quantitative strand employed a self-completion questionnaire designed for completion by students between the ages of 13 and 15 years. The questionnaire drew on insights from the qualitative strand in dialogue with insights generated from earlier quantitative research conducted among this age group, including the Teenage Religion and Values Survey, the Attitude toward Religion Project and the Outgroup Prejudice Project. The questionnaire included established measures shaped within the psychology of personality and individual differences, the psychology of religion, and empirical theology.
The quantitative strand set out to capture data from over 2,000 students living in each of the four nations of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) and from London as a special case. While participation was voluntary, all students attending participating schools were invited to take part. Anonymity and confidentiality were assured. In total, nearly 12,000 students submitted thoroughly completed questionnaires. The project concentrated on schools within the state-maintained sector, but sought to obtain roughly equal numbers of students within each of the five areas attending schools with a religious character and without a religious foundation.
Highlights from the research include:
- students who are themselves religiously motivated hold more positive attitudes toward religious diversity;
- there is no evidence that schools with a religious character produce students who are less accepting of people from other religious faiths;
- religious education does work in the sense of leading to attitudes that promote community cohesion, lessen religious conflict, and promote the common good.