Spirituality as a moderator of the relationship between peer group behaviors and health-compromising behaviors among college students

Tiffany Danyelle Monroe, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to explore the protective effects of spirituality on health-compromising behaviors, in light of the considerable influence of peer behavior on college students’ life choices. For those who lack the appropriate resources, the college environment may provide increased vulnerability to health-compromising behaviors, with negative peer influences intensifying the risk of unhealthy life choices. However, social control theory (Hirschi, 2002) suggests that institutions such as churches, families, and schools, which exemplify social norms, may serve as protective factors against health-compromising behaviors. This study sought to explore the moderating effects of spirituality on health-compromising behavior, in the presence of unhealthy peer behavior. Participants included 149 undergraduate students from psychology courses at Fordham University. Students completed a demographic questionnaire, the Individual and Peer Health-Compromising Behaviors Questionnaires (IHCBQ and PHCBQ), The Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale (DSES), the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS), and the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Religiosity Scale-Revised (I/E-R). Attendance to religious services and all three spirituality measures were inversely correlated with scores from the IHCBQ. Also, the PHCBQ was positively correlated with individual behaviors. Moderation was tested with hierarchical regression analyses. As a whole spirituality was shown to be a protective variable, as the full regression model was significant in predicting individual behavior. More specifically, daily spiritual experiences were found to be a significant buffer in the relationship between individual health-compromising behavior and peer health-compromising behavior. Spiritual well-being was not a significant predictor of individual behavior in this sample, although the strength of the relationship suggested that this finding may be specific to the current study. Intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity was also not a significant moderator in the model. Nevertheless, this study encouraged the use of more robust instruments in order to accurately assess the complex concept spirituality and its effects health-related behaviors. Given the findings, this study lends itself to the growing body of research and campus policies that assist college students in making healthy life choices.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Spirituality

Recommended Citation

Monroe, Tiffany Danyelle, "Spirituality as a moderator of the relationship between peer group behaviors and health-compromising behaviors among college students" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3495893.