A structural analysis of deconversion processes in adolescence: The construction of the Adolescent Deconversion Scale

Mirosław Nowosielski, Rafał P. Bartczuk


The presence of spiritual and religious changes in adolescence is strongly supported by the existing theory and research. In the present article we propose to apply a deconversion-based approach to the exploration of religious crisis in adolescence. Streib developed the theory of deconversion in the context of the growing interest in atheism and apostasy. In the proposed approach, deconversion processes comprise all changes in personal religiosity that involve a departure from the current ways of manifesting religiosity. Drawing on Streib’s theory, on the basis of research conducted on 323 people, we constructed the Adolescent Deconversion Scale. Analyses revealed the existence of four dimensions, which we interpreted as: (1) abandoning faith, (2) withdrawal from the community, (3) experiencing transcendental emptiness, and (4) moral criticism. The reliability and validity of the new method were assessed and found to be acceptable.


deconversion; adolescence; spiritual transformation; Adolescent Deconversion Scale

Full Text:



Barbour, J. D. (1994). Versions of deconversion: Autobiography and the loss of faith. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Bernaards, C. A., & Jennrich, R. I. (2005). Gradient projection algorithms and software for arbitrary rotation criteria in factor analysis. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 65(5), 676-696.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Colby, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1987). The measurement of moral judgement, Vol. I: Theoretical foundations and research validation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 24(4), 349-354.

Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith. The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers.

Hall, G. S. (1904). Adolescence: Its psychology and its relations to physiology, anthropology, sociology, sex, crime, religion, and education. New York: D. Appleton and Company.

Harrell, F. E., Dupont, Ch. et al. (2015). Hmisc: Harrell Miscellaneous (Version 3.17-0). Website: http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=Hmisc

Hood, R. W., Hill, P. C., & Spilka, B. (2009). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (4th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Hood, R. W., Spilka, B., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. L. (1996). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Hornowska, E. (2003). Testy psychologiczne: teoria i praktyka. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe „Scholar”.

Huber, S. (2003). Zentralität und Inhalt: Ein neues multidimensionales Messmodell der Religiosität. Opladen: Leske und Budrich.

Huber, S., & Huber, O. W. (2012). The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (C-15). Religions, 3(3), 710-724.

Hutsebaut, D. (1980). Belief as lived relations. Psychologia Belgica, 20(2), 33-47.

King, P. E. (2007). Religion and positive youth development. In R. K. Silbereisen & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Positive development: Linking individuals, communities and social policies (pp. 227-242). London: Sage Publications.

King, P. E., Ramos, J. S., & Clardy, C. E. (2013). Searching for the sacred: Religion, spirituality, and adolescent development. In K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, & J. W. Jones (Eds.), APA handbook of psychology, religion, and spirituality (vol. 1, pp. 513-528). Washington: APA

Kohlberg, L., & Power, C. (1981). Moral development, religious thinking and the question of a seventh stage. Zygon, 16(3), 203-259.

Lawshe, C. H. (1975). A quantitative approach to content validity. Personnel Psychology, 28(4), 563-575.

Levenson, M. R., Aldwin, C. M., & Igarashi, H. (2013). Religious development from adolescence to middle adulthood. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed.) (pp. 183-197). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Lorenzo-Seva, U., & ten Berge, J. F. (2006). Tucker’s congruence coefficient as a meaningful index of factor similarity. Methodology, 2(2), 57-64.

Mariański, J. (2006). Sekularyzacja i desekularyzacja w nowoczesnym świecie [Secularization and desecularization in the modern world]. Lublin: The Catholic University of Lublin Press.

Mariański, J. (2008). Emigracja z Kościoła. Religijność młodzieży polskiej w warunkach zmian społecznych [Emigration from the Church. The religiosity of Polish youth in the conditions of social transformations]. Lublin: The Catholic University of Lublin Press.

Mariański, J. (2011). Tendencje rozwojowe w polskim katolicyzmie – diagnoza i prognoza [Developmental tendencies in Polish Catholicism – Diagnosis and prognosis]. Teologia Praktyczna, 12, 7-24.

Niewiadomska, I., Bartczuk, R. P., Chwaszcz, J., Fel, S., Augustynowicz, W., Palacz-Chrisidis, A., & Wiechetek, M. (2015). Religiosity as a factor protecting against problem behaviour in adolescence. Journal for Perspectives of Economic Political and Social Integration, 21(1-2), 63-90.

Nowosielski, M. (2008). Korelaty kryzysu religijnego [Correlates of religious crisis]. Warsaw, PL: Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University Press.

Nowosielski, M., & Bartczuk, R. P. (2011). Skala Kryzysu Religijnego W. Prężyny [Religious Crisis Scale by W. Prężyna]. In M. Jarosz (Ed.), Psychologiczny pomiar religijności [Psychological measurement of religiosity] (pp. 73-88). Lublin: Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin

Nowosielski, M., & Bartczuk, R. P. (2015). Religijność w procesie przemian – koncepcja dekonwersji H. Streiba [Religiosity in the process of transformation – H. Streib’s theory of deconversion]. Studia Psychologica, 15(2), 5-23

Oleszkiewicz, A., & Senejko, A. (2011). Dorastanie [Adolescence]. In J. Trempała (Ed.), Psychologia rozwoju człowieka [The psychology of human development] (pp. 259-286). Warsaw, PL: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Oleś, P. K. (1991). Value crisis: Measurement and personality correlates. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 22(1), 53-64.

Oleś, P. K. (2002). Z badań nad wartościami i wartościowaniem: niektóre kwestie metodologiczne [Research on values and evaluation: Selected methodological issues]. Roczniki Psychologiczne, 5, 53-75.

Paloutzian, R .F. (2005). Religious conversion and spiritual transformation: A meaning- system analysis. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 331-347). New York: The Guilford Press.

Paloutzian, R. F., Murken, S., Streib, H., & Röβler-Namini, S. (2013). Conversion, deconversion, and spiritual transformation: A multilevel interdisciplinary view. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed.) (pp. 399-421). New York: The Guilford Press.

Płużek, Z. (2002). Psychologia pastoralna [Pastoral psychology]. Cracow, PL: Instytut Teologiczny Księży Misjonarzy.

Potocki, A. (2014). Problem polskiej wiary. Uwagi socjologa [The problem of Polish faith: A sociologist’s remarks]. Colloquia Theologica Ottoniana, 1, 35-58.

Pratt, J. B. (1920). The religious consciousness a psychological study. New York: Macmillan.

R Core Team (2014). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from: http://www.R-project.org/

Regnerus, M. D., & Uecker, J. D. (2006). Finding faith, losing faith: The prevalence and context of religious transformations during adolescence. Review of Religious Research, 47(3), 217-237.

Revelle, W., & Zinbarg, R. E. (2009). Coefficients alpha, beta, omega, and the glb: Comments on Sijtsma. Psychometrika, 74(1), 145-154.

Rew, L., & Wong, Y. J. (2006). A systematic review of associations among religiosity/spirituality and adolescent health attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38(4), 433-442.

Rydz, E. (2012). Tendencje rozwojowe religijności młodych dorosłych [Developmental tendencies in the religiousness of young adults]. Lublin: The Catholic University of Lublin Press.

Rydz, E. (2014). Development of religiousness in young adults. In K. Adamczyk & M. Wysota (Eds.), Functioning of young adults in a changing world (pp. 67-84). Cracow, PL: Libron.

Rydz, E., & Zarzycka, B. (2008). Poziom religijności a poczucie spójności wewnętrznej w wieku młodzieńczym [The level of religiosity and self-consistency in adolescence]. Psychologia Rozwojowa, 13(4), 49-58.

Sandage, J., & Moe, S. P. ( 2013). Spiritual experience: Conversion and transformation. In R. F. Paloutian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 407-421). New York: The Guilford Press.

Schnitker, S. A., Felke, T. J., & Barrett, J. L. (2014). Longitudinal study of religious and spiritual transformation in adolescents attending young life summer camp: Assessing the epistemic, intrapsychic, and moral sociability functions of conversion. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(2), 83-93.

Sijtsma, K. (2009). Reliability beyond theory and into practice. Psychometrika, 74(1), 169-173.

Socha, P. (2000). Stadialny rozwój sądów moralnych w koncepcji Lawrence’a Kohlberga. Przegląd i ocena głównych tez [Stadial development of moral judgments in Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory]. In P. Socha (Ed.), Duchowy rozwój człowieka [Human spiritual development] (pp. 145-163). Cracow, PL: Jagiellonian University Press.

Soiński, B. (2010). Osobowość i nawrócenie: psychologiczno-pastoralna analiza osobowości nawróconych członków zakonów i grup religijnych [Personality and conversion: Psychological and pastoral personality analysis of converted members of religious orders and groups]. Poznań: Adam Mickiewicz University Press.

Starbuck, E. D. (1901). The psychology of religion: An empirical study of the growth of religious consciousness. London: W. Scott.

Streib, H. (2001). Faith development theory revisited: the religious styles perspective. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 11(3), 143-158.

Streib, H. (2005). Faith development research revisited: Accounting for diversity in structure, content, and narrativity of faith. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 15(2), 99-121.

Streib, H. (2008). More spiritual than religious: Changes in the religious field require new approaches. In H. Streib, A. Dinter, & K. Söderblom (Eds.), Lived religion – conceptual, empirical, and practical-theological approaches. Essays in honor of Hans-Günter Heimbrock (pp. 131-163). Leiden: Brill.

Streib, H., & Hood, R. W. (2011). “Spirituality” as privatized experience-oriented religion: Empirical and conceptual perspectives. Implicit Religion, 14(4), 433-453.

Streib, H., Hood, R. W., Keller, B., Csöff, R.-M., & Silver, C. F. (2009). Deconversion: Qualitative and quantitative results from cross-cultural research in Germany and the United States of America. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.

Streib, H., & Keller, B. (2004). The variety of deconversion experiences: Contours of a concept in respect to empirical research. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 26(1), 181-200. https://doi.org/10.1163/0084672053598030

Streib, H., & Klein, C. (2013). Atheists, agnostics, and apostates. In K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, & J. W. Jones (Eds.), APA handbook of psychology, religion, and spirituality. Vol. 1: Context, theory, and research (pp. 713-728). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Śliwak, J., & Bartczuk, R. P. (2011). Skala relacji religijnych – Przeżywane relacje do Boga D. Hutsebauta [Religious Relations – Lived Relations to God Scale by D. Hutsebaut]. In M. Jarosz (Ed.), Psychologiczny pomiar religijności [Psychological measurement of religiosity] (pp. 171-200). Lublin: Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin.

Śliwak, J., Zarzycka, B., & Rak, R. (2011). Kryzys w wartościowaniu a relacje religijne [Value crisis and religious relations]. Czasopismo Psychologiczne, 17(1), 75-86.

Velicer, W. (1976). Determining the number of components from the matrix of partial correlations. Psychometrika, 41(3), 321-327.

Wallace, J. M., & Forman, T. A. (1998). Religion’s role in promoting health and reducing risk among American youth. Health Education & Behavior, 25(6), 721-741.

Werner, H. (1957). The concept of development from a comparative and organismic point of view. In D. B. Harris (Ed.), The concept of development (pp. 125-148). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Wilczyńska, J. T., & Drwal, R. Ł. (1983). Social Desirability Questionnaire. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 14, 51-59.

Wilson, F. R., Pan, W., & Schumsky, D. A. (2012). Recalculation of the critical values for Lawshe’s Content Validity Ratio. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 45(3), 197-210.

Wulff, D. M. (1999). Psychologia religii. Klasyczna i współczesna [The psychology of religion: Classical and modern]. Warsaw, PL: WSiP.

Wulff, D. M. (2002). A century of conversion in American psychology of religion. In C. Henning & E. Nestler (Eds.), Konversion: Zur Aktualitäteines Jahrhundert themas [Conversion: On the actuality of the century’s theme] (pp. 43-73). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Wysocka, E. (2007). Religijność młodzieży studenckiej jako wyznacznik funkcjonowania psychospołecznego. Część I. Religijność a doświadczanie kryzysu w wartościowaniu i jego wyznaczniki [The religiosity of university students as a determinant of their psychosocial functioning. Part I: Religiosity and the experience of value crisis as well as its determinants]. Paedagogia Christiana, 20(2), 55-72.

Yonker, J. E., Schnabelrauch, Ch. A., & Dehaan, L. G. (2012). The relationship between spirituality and religiosity on psychological outcomes in adolescents and emerging adults: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescence, 35(2), 299-314.

Zaręba, S. (2012). Religijność młodzieży w środowisku zurbanizowanym: Socjologiczne studium teoretyczno-empiryczne [Young people’s religiosity in the urbanized environment: A theoret-ical and empirical sociological study]. Warsaw, PL–Rzeszów: Pobitno Oficyna Wydawniczo-Usługowa.

Zarzycka, B. (2007). Skala Centralności Religijności S. Hubera [S. Huber’s Centrality of Religiosity Scale]. Roczniki Psychologiczne, 10(1), 133-157.

Zarzycka, B. (2009). Tradition or charisma – religiosity in Poland. In Bertelsmann-Stiftung (Ed.), What the world believes: Analysis and commentary on the Religion Monitor 2008. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Zarzycka, B. (2011). Polska adaptacja Skali Centralności Religijności S. Hubera [A Polish adaptation of S. Huber’s Centrality of Religiosity Scale]. In M. Jarosz (Ed.), Psychologiczny pomiar religijności [Psychological measurement of religiosity] (pp. 231-261). Lublin: Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18290/rpsych.2017.20.1-5en


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Roczniki Psychologiczne/Annals of Psychology

ISSN: 1507-7888   e-ISSN: 2451-4306

© Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL & Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II – Wydział Nauk Społecznych

Articles are licensed under a Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)