Dr. David Gay


With perceptions of conflict between religion and science often appearing in popular discussions and academic writings, cognitive dissonance may result if college students find their epistemological beliefs challenged during their undergraduate education. The purpose of this study is to explore whether students experience cognitive dissonance between their religious and spiritual identity and their college education and experiences, as well as whether certain factors in college life lead to cognitive dissonance. College students (N = 272) from the Central Florida area were surveyed with measures exploring the dimensions of college life that affect the likelihood of students experiencing tension between their religious and spiritual beliefs, and their course material and college experiences. Results from binary logistic regressions reveal that the level of a student's religiosity and/or spirituality bears no relation to experiencing cognitive dissonance. Involvement in fraternities and sororities, partying, and church attendance were associated with a decrease in the likelihood of experiencing cognitive dissonance. These results may suggest a social factor that mitigates cognitive dissonance for students.

About the Author

Shawn Gaulden graduated from UCF in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a minor in film. His Honors in the Major thesis explored the "spiritual but not religious trend" and cognitive dissonance in higher education. He is continuing his education in Sociology in the graduate program at FSU.



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