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Moral, religious, and identity development were assessed in a longitudinal study by sampling students enrolled at a Christian liberal arts college during their first semester, and again 3 1/2 years later. Those who continued enrollment to their senior year (persisters) were found to make greater gains in moral reasoning and greater movement toward identity achievement than those who did not continue enrollment (nonpersisters). Persisters were also found to decline significandy in religious well-being, particularly females, and extrinsic religiosity, while not changing in Shepherd scores or in intrinsic religiosity. Nonpersisters were found to increase significantly in intrinsic religiosity. Significant differences were found between students of different identity statuses in moral reasoning and religiosity. Results also indicate that identity status interacts with development of moral reasoning and religiosity, with those at the identity achievement or moratorium level gaining the most in moral reasoning and showing more positive changes in religiosity.


Originally published in the Journal of Psychology and Theology, 27 (1), 52-68.