Integrating emotion and cognition in the pathway from adolescent religiousness to risk taking

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Virginia Tech


Existing literature has demonstrated an association between higher adolescent religiousness and lower risk taking via higher self-regulation. However, the present study uniquely sought to elucidate whether particular dimensions of self-regulation (i.e., emotion regulation, effortful control, and executive function) play differential roles in establishing this relation. It was hypothesized in longitudinal analyses over one year that higher religiousness would be associated with higher emotion regulation, which in turn was hypothesized to be associated with higher effortful control and executive function, and, subsequently, higher effortful control and higher executive function to be associated with higher risk taking. Participants included 157 adolescents at Time 1 (mean age = 14 years, 52% male) and 140 adolescents returned for Time 2 (mean age = 15 years, 53% male). Structural equation models, including confirmatory factor analysis and path models tested significant individual paths and mediation via bias corrected bootstrapping supported hypotheses across multiple alternative models, except for hypotheses regarding mediation analyses, which received limited empirical support. The findings highlight that higher religiousness is associated with higher emotion regulation and, in turn, higher emotion regulation is associated with higher executive function and effortful control which, subsequently, are associated with lower adolescent risk taking. In light of this, religiousness is understood as a contextual protective factor for adolescents and intervention strategies targeting emotion regulation, executive function, and effortful control may be associated with lower adolescent risk taking.



Religiousness, self-regulation, emotion regulation, effortful control, executive function, risk taking, adolescents