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The Associations between Religion, Impulsivity, and Externalizing Behaviors in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study

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posted on 2022-11-24, 20:25 authored by Kalina M. L. Fahey, Saki C. Nakai, John A. Edwards, Sarah DermodySarah Dermody

 In studies of adolescents and adults, religiosity has been identified as a protective factor for impulsivity-related behaviors and externalizing problems. No known studies to date have examined the relationship between religiosity and such outcomes in children. Thus, the current study examined in children whether (1) religion is associated with decreased impulsivity and externalizing symptoms, and if (2) religiosity is a protective factor in the association between impulsivity and externalizing symptoms. Data were from Wave 1 of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study (children aged 9-10, N =11,875). Two self-report measures and the Cash Choice Task assessed impulsivity; the Child Behavior Checklist assessed externalizing symptoms; and child religiosity was assessed in parent interviews. Structural equation models examined religiosity (affiliation, service attendance, importance) as a moderator between impulsivity and externalizing symptoms. Greater religious attendance was significantly associated with decreased impulsivity. Christian affiliation was associated with increased impulsivity as compared to other religions. Contrary to our hypotheses, religiosity did not moderate associations between impulsivity and externalizing symptoms. Findings suggest impulsivity and externalizing behaviors are related to some domains of religiosity in children; however, the magnitude of the effect sizes was small, suggesting religiosity is not a particularly salient predictor of externalizing problems in children. Given these findings differ from those seen in studies of adolescents and adults, future studies should consider longitudinal designs to better understand how these relationships form across the lifespan. 

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