Portraits of American Life Study
Hosted by The ARDA
The PALS seeks to understand the impact of religion in everyday life, and ultimately the connections between religious change and other forms of change among diverse individuals and families over the course of their lives.


Journal Publications

Merino, Stephen. 2013. “Contact with Gays and Lesbians and Same-Sex Marriage Support: The Moderating Role of Social Context.” Social Science Research 42(4):1156-1166
Merino, Stephen. 2013. “Religious Social Networks and Volunteering: Examining Recruitment via Close Ties.” Review of Religious Research 55(3): 509-527.
Porter, Jeremy, and Michael O. Emerson. 2013 "Religiosity and Social Network Diversity: Decomposing the 'Divided by Faith' Theoretical Framework." Social Science Quarterly 94(3):732-757. Available (available in EarlyView online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.rice.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00926.x/full).
Vargas, Nicholas, and Markus H. Schafer. 2013. "Diversity in action: Interpersonal networks and the distribution of advice." Social Science Research 42(1): 46-58.
Vargas, Nicholas. 2013. "Off white: colour-blind ideology at the margins of whiteness." Ethnic and Racial Studies ahead-of-print: 1-22.
Porter, Jeremy R., Rader, Nicole E., and Jeralynn S. Cossman. (2012) "Social Disorganization and Neighborhood Fear: Examining the Intersection of Individual, Community, and County Characteristics." American Journal of Criminal Justice. 37: 229-245. http://www.springerlink.com/content/n75020g7n5x70532/ **Paper of the Year Award – American Journal of Criminal Justice**
Rader, Nicole, Jeralynn Cossman and Jeremy R. Porter. (2012) “Fear of Crime and Vulnerability: Using a National Sample to Examine Two Competing Paradigms” Journal of Criminal Justice 40:134-141. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00472352/40/2
Vargas, Nicholas and Markus H. Schafer. 2012. "Diversity in Action: Interpersonal Networks and the Distribution of Advice." Social Science Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.08.013
Sigalow, Emily, Michelle Shain, and Meredith R. Bergey. 2012. "Religion and Decisions About Marriage, Residence, Occupation, and Children." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51(2): 304-323.
Jung, Jong Hyun. 2012. "Islamophobia?: Religion, Contact with Muslims, and the Respect for Islam." Review of Religious Research, 54(1): 113-126.
Vargas, Nicholas. 2012. "Retrospective Accounts of Religious Disaffiliation in the U.S.: Stressors, Skepticism, and Political Factors." Sociology of Religion, 73(2): 200-223; also available online at http://socrel.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/10/11/socrel.srr044.short

(This article won the 2012 “Best Student Graduate Student Paper Award" from the American Sociological Association's section on the Sociology of Religion.)

Emerson, Michael O., David Sikkink, and Adele James. 2010. "The Panel Study of American Religion and Ethnicity: Background, Methods, and Selected Results." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49:162-171.
Gunnoe, Marjorie L., and Claudia D. Beversluis. 2009. "And a Teen Shall Lead Them: The Relationship Between Worship Experiences and Youth Religiosity in the Panel Study of American Religiosity and Ethnicity (PS-ARE)." Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 28(3): 236-247.


Shelton, Jason, and Michael O. Emerson. 2012. Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions. New York: NYU Press.
Jason E. Shelton of the University of Texas at Arlington and Michael O. Emerson of Rice University explore what is unique about black Protestantism, in comparison to both mainline and evangelical white Protestantism in their book Blacks and Whites in America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions (2012, NYU Press).
Uzi Rebhun of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem drew upon data from the PALS in Wandering Jew in America (2011, Academic Studies Press). Based on analysis of data from the 1990 and 2000 National Jewish Population Surveys, the book examines the patterns of Jewish internal migration in the US, the determinants of the migration, and the migration-Jewish identification relationships.
Robert Putnam of Harvard and David Campbell of Notre Dame used the PALS along with other national studies of religion for their book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010, Simon & Schuster).


2012 Annual Midwest Association for Public Research (MAPOR) Conference, Chicago, IL.

Mode Effects Measurement and Correlation: A Case Study
 Authors:Stan Kolenikov, Abt SRBI
Courtney Kennedy, Abt SRBI
Ali Ackermann, Abt SRBI
Chintan Turakhia, Abt SRBI

2012 Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, IL.

Race and Religion in a Changing America: Newly Discovered Patterns in a National Panel Study
 Authors:Michael Emerson, Rice University

2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Orlando, FL.

Mode Effects Measurement and Correction: A Case Study
 Authors: Courtney Kennedy, Abt SRBI
Allison Ackermann, Abt SRBI
Chintan Turakhia, Abt SRBI
Michael Emerson, Rice University
Adele James, Rice University

2012 Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Vancouver, BC.

Participation In Authoritative Communities As A Predictor Of Adolescent Adjustment, poster presentation
 Authors:Marjorie L. Gunnoe, Calvin College
Claudia D. Beversluis, Calvin College

2011 Annual Conference of the Association of Black Sociologists, Las Vegas, NV

Skin Tone and Stratification in America
 Authors:Ryon Cobb, Florida State University
William Sandy Darity, Duke University
Darrick Hamilton, The New School for Public Engagement

2011 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, Las Vegas, NV

Religious Networks and Volunteering: The Effects of Religious Involvement and Recruitment by Religiously Based Social Ties
 Author:Stephen M. Merino, Pennsylvania State University

2011 Michigan Undergraduate Psychological Research Conference, Grand Rapids, MI

Ratings of Parenting Style and Psychosocial Functioning by Youth Who Recall No Physical Discipline, Physical Discipline Only During Childhood, and Recent Physical Discipline, keynote address
 Author:Marjorie L. Gunnoe, Calvin College

2011 Symposium of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal Quebec

Do Authoritative Parents Spank? Evaluations of Parents by Never-Spanked Youth and Youth Spanked During Different Developmental Periods
 Author:Marjorie L. Gunnoe, Calvin College

2011 Annual Meeting of the Southern Association for Public Opinion Research, Raleigh, NC

Lessons Learned Converting an In-Person Survey to Web and Phone
 Authors: Allison Ackermann, Abt SRBI
Courtney Kennedy, Abt SRBI
Chintan Turakhia, Abt SRBI
Michael O. Emerson, Rice University
Adele James, Rice University

2010 Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) conference, Baltimore, MD

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged: Relationships between Body Mass Index and Engagement in a Religious Community
 Author:Shanna Granstra, Baylor University

2009 Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) conference, Denver, CO

Religion and Expressions of Generosity
 Authors: Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame
Jonathan Hill, Calvin College
Brandon Vaidyanathan, University of Notre Dame
Religion and Gambling: Exploring the Role of Tradition and Networks
 Authors: Christopher G. Ellison, University of Texas
Michael J. McFarland, University of Texas
Religion and Identity Politics among Blacks and Whites
 Authors: Jen'nan Read, Duke University
David Eagle, Duke University
Friends for Eternity: How Religion Shapes Social Ties in the U.S.
 Authors: David Sikkink, University of Notre Dame
Kraig Beyerlein, University of Notre Dame
Why Do African Americans Pray So Often?
 Authors: Jason E. Shelton, University of Texas at Arlington
Michael O. Emerson, Rice University

2009 Southern Demographic Association (SDA), Galveston, TX

Residential Segregation and Black/White Disparities in Pathways to Overweight
 Authors: Jeremy R. Porter, CUNY - Brooklyn
Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University
Bridget K. Gorman, Rice University
Residential Segregation, Inter-group Contact and Black/White Differences in Self-Rated Health
 Authors: Jeremy R. Porter, CUNY - Brooklyn
Jenifer L. Bratter, Rice University
Bridget K. Gorman, Rice University

2009 Society for Research in Child Development Pre-conference on Religious and Spiritual Development, Denver, CO

And a Teen Shall Lead Them: Associations Between Four Worship Experiences and 10 Measures of Youth Religiosity
 Authors: Majorie L. Gunnoe, Calvin College
Claudia D. Beversluis, Calvin College

2007 Calvin Symposium on Worship, Grand Rapids, MI

What Teens Want and Need During Worship: Preliminary Findings from the Panel Study of American Religiosity and Ethnicity (PS-ARE: Youth)
 Authors: Majorie L. Gunnoe, Calvin College
Claudia D. Beversluis, Calvin College


Erica Wong, University of Michigan, "Can Religion Trump Race? Interracial Friendship in Protestant Churches." [Download PDF]
Stephen Merino, Pennsylvania State University, "Social Resources and Influence in Religious Networks: Consequences for Social Support, Volunteering, and Intergroup Contact." [Read More]

Related Research Projects

PALS data have been extended to an entirely new project called "The Religion, Immigrant, Civic Engagement Project (R.I.C.E.)." Elaine Howard Ecklund and Michael Emerson, both of Rice University, carried out 200 in-depth interviews with first and second-generation immigrants as well as a group of native-born Americans, all persons from the PALS sample (funded by the Russell Sage Foundation). The study focuses on immigrant religion and its connection to civic activities, like volunteering and political participation. Articles based on this research regarding Chinese Americans and Mexican Americans are forthcoming. To view a brief video about the study, visit http://kinder.rice.edu/content.aspx?id=2316.

The PALS Youth is a study of adolescents aged 12-17 who were a biological or adopted child of a PALS Wave 1 participant and living in the same household as that parent. Youth interviews (n=183) occurred within three months of Wave 1, conditioned upon parental consent, and covered topics such as relationships with and between parents, household routines, religious and ethnic identities, congregational attendance and practices, schooling, and attitudes. PALS Youth is directed by researchers at Calvin College, led by Marjorie L. Gunnoe. Findings from this youth study have appeared in journal and popular press articles as well as in several symposiums.

A National Student Paper contest for both undergraduate and graduate students was held in 2010 for the best use of the PALS data in a research paper. Winners were awarded from high quality entries from across the country.

National Scholar Involvement - Analysis of the PALS is ongoing by several other scholars. For example:

Valerie A. Lewis and Daniel Schlozman of Harvard University are examining the links between religion and friendships that bridge class divides, using PALS data as one of four separate national surveys to test the relationships between religious factors and bridging.
Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Eva Shih, and Michael Emerson, "Rethinking the Connection between Religion and Civic Life for Immigrants: The Case of the Chinese Diaspora," is an article in progress for publication.
Elizabeth Tighe of Brandeis University is using the PALS's detailed information on both religious and ethnic identification to develop estimates of the size and demographic characteristics of the Jewish population in the United States by systematically combining it with data across a large number of individual data sources.
Jeremy Porter, CUNY-Brooklyn College, and Michael Emerson, Rice University, are examining the link between religious belonging and salience with the diversity of one's friendship network.
Michael Welch of the University of Notre Dame is examining how social networks and optimism can influence a person's expression of generalized trust.
Michael Aguilera of the University of Oregon is looking at skin tone as a predictor for household income, unemployment, home ownership, and religious involvement.
Frank Samson of the University of Miami is exploring how ethno-racial attitudes influence behaviors associated with civic engagement.
Rachel Kimbro, Bridget Gorman, and Jeremy Porter, all of Rice University, are studying the relationships between communities' racial/ethnic composition, perceived safety, and health outcomes.
Michael Emerson,Stuart Nelson and Adele James are writing a paper exploring the religious and spiritual turning points in people's lives, and the causes and consequences of those experiences.
Shannon Gransta, Baylor University, completed her thesis analyzing the relationship between obesity and affiliations with religious congregations.

In the News - Work using the PALS is appearing in the popular press.

"Take This Job and Love It: Faith Plays Role in Workplace Satisfaction" by David Briggs, Ahead of the Trend, July 3, 2012, The Association Religion Data Archives
"Religion May Help Obese Shed Pounds, Gain Self-Esteem" by David Briggs, Ahead of the Trend, November 23, 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives
"Differing Attitudes About Race Reflect Two Americas" by David Briggs, Faith & Leadership, October 26, 2010; See the article and quiz: differing-attitudes-about-race-reflect-two-americas.
"Deaths of Innocents Challenge Individual, Social Beliefs" by David Briggs, Ahead of the Trend, April 10, 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives
"Studies Find God is Alive and Well Among America's Youth" by David Briggs, Ahead of the Trend, January 20, 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives
"Study on Race, Religion Lifts Up Unpopular Truth of Two Americas" by David Briggs, Ahead of the Trend, January 6, 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives.
"Youth, Worship, and Faith Formation: Findings from a National Survey," by Marjorie L. Gunnoe and Claudia D. Beversluis, March 2009, Reformed Worship
"Some Kids are Never Spanked - Do They Turn Out Better?" by Po Bronson (Newsweek)
  Cites research of teenage Americans by Dr. Marjorie Gunnoe using the Portraits of American Life Study (PALS).
"I am a Closet Christian" by Ada Calhoun (Salon)
 Cites the PALS study in discussing how people felt about those outside their close friends and family knowing they were religious.
"Trends in Culture & Church: Sex, Lies, and Surveys" by D. Michael Lindsay, REV! September/October 2007. Copyright 2007 Group Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No unauthorized duplication permitted. [pdf]

Please send us PDF copies of papers/working papers/technical reports you develop using data from PALS.

Give us your feedback!

Through out these sections, we invite you to enter the discussion about these findings and what their implications may be. Click on the COMMENT link to send your thoughts to pals@rice.edu. Where appropriate we will include comments for others to read and discuss. Names of contributors will not be posted, but, if you like, include your religious tradition.

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