Date of Award
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology
For single Christians over the age of twenty-five, finding support and acceptance within the church can be a very high hurdle to cross. While the church as a whole promotes itself as a place of acceptance, it is rare to find a church with activities focused toward single persons older than college age. Attempts by single persons to become involved in different facets of discipleship, service, and ministry are not always well received. In a preliminary uncontrolled study the results suggested that the church may have a bias against single adults. The present study considers whether the church operates with bias in favor of couples and families and against single adults. By studying how churches react to and handle requests from single adults to become involved in the church, the possibility of intended and unintended biases can be revealed. Data was collected from 36 churches located in a metropolitan community in the Pacific Northwest by confederates posing as married or single adults requesting assistance in locating a cell group. The amount of time needed to respond to the request for assistance was recorded for each of the conditions. These data were examined through analysis of multivariate variance (MANOV A), t-tests, and post hoc comparisons. Married people had response latencies averaging 34 hours. Never-married women had a mean response latency of 62.1 hours. Responses for single mothers had a mean of 140.6 hours. For single men response latencies had a mean of 318.8 hours. Analysis of variance results show that church size was not a predictor of response latencies and the response latencies for all conditions were consistent. These results are highly significant despite underestimating response latencies for single mothers and single men due to truncation. These results indicate a significantly slower response by the churches to requests from single adults, and underscore the extent of the biases experienced by single adults. Data from this study may be very beneficial in helping the church re-evaluate its approach toward single adults. Anecdotally, it appears that single mothers are viewed as a potential drain on the church's resources. Similar anecdotes suggest single men are viewed as potential sexual predators searching for women or children. These attitudes toward single adults may be an underlying origin for the biases expressed toward the single adult population. Results of the study are consistent with the notion that church are interested in families as their primary constituents and seldom consider single adults unless they are never-married women. Unfortunately, there appears to be very little room at the inn for single mothers and single men.
Harmon, Michael, "Singles Need Not Apply: Evangelical Church Responses Reveal Longer Response Latencies to Requests of Single Adults" (2005). Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). 403.