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Religion, Plausibility Structures, and Education's Effect on Attitudes Toward Elective Abortion

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This study tests three hypotheses derived from Berger's (1967) plausibility theory. The first hypothesis states that among people who attend church frequently, education's liberalizing effect on attitudes toward elective abortion is weakest among conservative Protestants and Catholics, intermediate among moderate Protestants, and strongest among liberal Protestants and Jews. Hypotheses 2 states that education's effect is weaker among frequent than infrequent attenders in all religious groups except liberal Protestants and Jews, and Hypothesis 3 states that education's effect does not vary by religious group among infrequent attenders. Using General Social Survey data, I found strong support for Hypotheses 1 and 2 and partial support for Hypothesis 3. I discuss the implications of the findings for plausibility theory.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee,

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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