U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Influence of Religiosity on Violent Behavior of Adolescents: A Comparison of Christian and Muslim Religiosity

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 29 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2014 Pages: 102-127
Dirk Baier
Date Published
January 2014
26 pages

Different criminological theories assume that religiosity protects against violent behavior.


Different criminological theories assume that religiosity protects against violent behavior. Up to now, this assumption is tested empirically almost exclusively for the Christian religiosity. The study presented here questions whether such a relationship between religiosity and violent behavior could be found for Muslims, likewise. Using a German-wide representative school survey of 16,545 male students in the ninth grade, who belong either to a Christian or an Islamic denomination, it can be revealed that only for Christians a higher religiosity correlates with a lower rate of violent behavior. This influence of Christian religiosity can be explained by mainly control theory variables. For Muslims, there is no significant correlation between religiosity and violent behavior in a bivariate analysis. A multivariate analysis, however, reveals a suppression effect: Controlling for alcohol consumption, Muslim religiosity increases violent behavior. In addition, high religious Muslims agree more often to norms of masculinity and consume more often media violence, which are risk factors of violent behavior. Accordingly, it can be concluded that religiosity is not a violence-protecting factor in general; instead, a more differentiated view for separate religious groups is necessary. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage.