Moral and Identity Development among Adolescents; the relation to SOC-value, and Existential and Religious Questions

The aim of the study is to explore the relationship between SOC-value (a value which measures the Sense of Coherence experienced by a person) and three different areas:

  • Moral development
  • Identity development (on the basis of relationships to peers and adults, the school situation and the self-concept)
  • The approach to existential and religious questions.

The study was conducted in 2012, a mixed methods design; with a quantitative survey that preceded the qualitative part, with semi-structured interviews.

The study included 90 adolescents from two public schools in Stockholm, 50 girls and 40 boys in the 8th grade (mean age: 14 years).

The result from one part of the study indicated no significant relationship between the SOC-value and moral development. Neither was there a significant difference in moral development between males and females, though females discussed moral issues more than males, especially among their friends.

The study also failed to find a relationship between the SOC-value and the following two religious variables: religious belonging and the importance of religion. The results showed that 77% of the adolescents in the study experienced a sense of religious belonging; 61 % to Christianity, 11% to Islam, 4% to Buddhism and 1% to Hinduism.

The material indicated that the majority of adolescents who reported some sense of belonging to Christianity referred to a cultural belonging, such as celebrating Christmas and other Christian holidays, or being baptized in church. The beliefs among those adolescents were rather diffuse, and in most cases without significance in everyday life. Existential questions such as: “what is most important in life?” and “what gives strength in life?” was related to relationship with peers and family among a majority.

Informants that stated a stronger religious belonging, particularly among participants with a Muslim background, also meant that relationship to peers and family was of great importance in life.

Participating researchers: Åsa Schumann, Valerie DeMarinis, J. Day, Önver Cetrez

Last modified: 2021-03-12