Religious Identity and Morality: Evidence for Religious Residue and Decay in Moral Foundations

Daryl R. Van Tongeren, C. Nathan DeWall, Sam A. Hardy, Philip Schwadel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Religion provides a powerful social identity. Building on previous work demonstrating that formerly religious individuals (i.e., religious dones) more closely resemble currently religious individuals than do never religious individuals (i.e., religious nones), we report three studies examining a potential religious residue effect for the endorsement of moral foundations. In Study 1 (N = 312), we found evidence of a stairstep pattern of endorsement of the five moral foundations, descending from currently religious to formerly religious to never religious individuals. Study 2 (N = 957) replicated these findings with a larger sample. In Study 3 (N = 2,071), we found evidence for the religious residue effect in a 4-wave longitudinal study of adolescents and young adults and suggest that the residual effects of religion on endorsement of moral foundations may erode over time. These studies add to a recently burgeoning line of work on the nature and consequences of religious deidentification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • formerly religious
  • moral foundations
  • morality
  • nonreligious
  • religion
  • religious residue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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