Religion 2:  Exercises Using the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey and SPSS

Revised: 2020

Author: Ed Nelson
Department of Sociology M/S SS97
California State University, Fresno
Fresno, CA 93740

© The Author, 2017, 2020

Text file - download and save in MS Word format 
Data File - subset of the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey

,·         Religion and measurement

  • Exercise 1 – measuring religious preference
  • Exercise 2 – measuring religiosity
  • Exercise 3 – measuring religious beliefs
  • Exercise 4  – measuring religious behavior

·         Religion and social issues

  • Exercise 5  – two-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about same-sex marriage
  • Exercise 6  – three-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about same-sex marriage
  • Exercise 7  – two-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about environmental laws and regulations
  • Exercise 8  – three-variable analysis of religion and how people feel about environmental laws and regulations

·         Religious mobility

  • Exercise 9 – comparing the religious group in which respondents were raised with their current religious preference to see how much mobility there is into and out of different religious groups
  • Exercise 10  – developing an overall measure of religious mobility and looking to see where people go when they leave their religious group
  • Exercise 11 – comparing religious mobility for men and women and for different age categories

·         Religious similarity and dissimilarity between respondents and their spouses or partners

  • Exercise 12  – comparing religious similarity and dissimilarity between respondent and their spouse or partner for different religious groups
  • Exercise 13 – developing an overall measure of religious similarity and looking more closely at respondents who are not similar to their spouses and partners in religious preference
  • Exercise 14 – exploring whether religious similarity varies by sex

·         Comparing different religious groups

  • Exercise 15 – introduction to this series of exercises in which students compare two religious groups of their choice
  • Exercise 16 – comparing the religiosity (i.e., how religious people are) of the two religious groups that students chose
  • Exercise 17  – comparing the religious beliefs of these two religious groups
  • Exercise 18 – comparing the religious behavior of the two religious groups
  • Exercise 19 – comparing political party preference and political views of these two religious groups
  • Exercise 20 – comparing opinions on same-sex marriage and abortion of the two religious groups

These exercises were written for courses that include a component on religion as well as for courses that introduce quantitative analysis.  The Pew Research Center has conducted a number of surveys that deal with religion.  Two of these surveys are the Religious Landscape Surveys conducted in 2007 and then repeated in 2014.  They were very large telephone surveys of about 35,000 adults in the United States.  

These exercises use a subset of the 2014 survey which I have named Pew_2014_Religious_Landscape_ Survey_subset_for_classes.sav.  For the purposes of these exercises, I selected a subset of variables from the complete data set.  I recoded some of the variables, created a few new variables, and renamed the variables to make them easier for students to use.  There is a weight variable which should always be used so that the sample will better represent the population from which the sample was selected.  To open the data set in SPSS, just double click on the file name.  (This assumes that the proper associations have been set up on your computer so the computer knows that .sav files are SPSS data files.)

Statistical Analysis

I use SPSS as the statistical package for these exercises.  However, they could be converted to SAS, Stata, or any other package you prefer.  The statistical tools used are relatively simple – percentages, crosstabulation, Chi Square, and measures of association.  Not all of these statistics are used in each exercise.  The exercises do not discuss how to compute these statistics nor do they discuss the assumptions underlying them.  If you want include either of these topics, you will need to add them to the exercises.

Notes for the Instructor

There are two appendices to the text file that you ought to read before using the exercises – one on how I created the data subset and the other on using the exercises in the classroom.

The exercises were written so each exercise is independent of the others and any one exercise can be used even if the other exercises are not used. Because the exercises were written to stand alone there is often duplication across the exercises. If you use several of the exercises together you may want to edit them to remove this duplication or add material of your own.

You have permission to use these exercises and to revise them to fit your needs. I would be interested in hearing about your experiences using the exercises. If you find any errors, please email me and I will correct them. For more information, please contact me.