English title: Exceptional Behavior or Exceptional Identity? Overreporting of Church Attendance in the U.S.

Author(s): Philip Brenner -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2011


It is well established that religious service attendance is over- reported on conventional surveys. However, research has focused almost exclusively on overreporting in American survey data. This study extends the current body of research by pursuing the following question: Are Americans the only overreporters, or is this a ubiquitous survey artifact inherent to conventional survey measures of religious service attendance? Overreporting is estimated as the difference between directive measures from conventional surveys and those from time diaries. The survey arti- fact is examined across 14 countries and over four decades, highlighting the consistency and extremeness of (over)reported American religious participation, in light of concordance between modes in other countries. Findings suggest that American religiosity may be exceptional not in terms of actual behavior, but rather in terms of identity. As a result, this study adds to our understanding of American exceptionalism by drawing a distinction between religious identities and religious behavior.

Volume: 75

Issue: 1

From page no: 19

To page no: 41

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1093/POQ/NFQ068

Journal: Public Opinion Quarterly

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