Risk, Religiosity, and Emerging Adulthood: Description of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim University Students at Entering the Freshman Year

American students transitioning to university are at an increased risk for behaviours such as binge drinking, depression and suicidality. Despite the proliferation of prevention and intervention programs, rates remain high. Although religiosity is known to confer a protective effect in this population, it remains largely untapped as a resource because, among other reasons, it is poorly understood, poses ethical challenges, and exposes areas of distrust between the religious and medical establishments. This report describes the findings of a survey that examined possible factors explaining the relationship between religiosity, risky behaviours and emotional extremes in students as they transitioned into their first year of university. This study accounted for the religious diversity of the US by surveying Christian, Jewish, Muslim and religiously unaffiliated students. Findings indicated that religiosity was consistently and negatively correlated to risky behaviours across all faith groups. Interestingly, unique patterns in levels of religiosity emerged among the various faith groups. Similarly, patterns of engagement in risky behaviours demonstrated variation among religious groups. Our findings add to the body of evidence that suggests university-based professionals take into consideration student religiosity when creating prevention intervention programs for students.