Multidimensionality and Asymmetry in Religious Switching Behavior1


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    We thank the ministers who kindly agreed to participate in the study. We also thank John Cochran, Kirby Gilliland, Richard Reardon, and Larry Toothaker for their assistance and review of an earlier version of the study.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Debby Doughty or Joseph Lee Rodgers, Department of Psychology, The University of Oklahoma, 455 West Lindsey Street, Room 705, Norman, OK 73019-0535.


Rokeach proposed that switching between denominations is governed by their perceived similarity on a unidimensional continuum. Resulting research has been based on unidimensional methods assuming symmetric interdenominational exchanges. Both assumptions are questionable. We use two data sources, a local survey accounting for ministers' perceptions of similarity between religions and the General Social Surveys accounting for actual switching behavior. Analytic methods, including multidimensional scaling, seriation, and nearest neighbor analysis, were chosen for their ability to account for multidimensionality and asymmetry. Results support a relationship between multidimensional similarity and gaining members but less to losing members. We conclude that religious switching is best understood as a multidimensional asymmetric process. Applied examples are presented.