Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 744-746

Extrinsic Religiousness (Religiosity)

  • Kevin S. MastersAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Colorado Email author 


Extrinsic religiousness (initially and still sometimes referred to as extrinsic religiosity) is characterized as religion that primarily serves other more ultimate ends rather than central religious beliefs per se. Thus, individuals described by extrinsic religiousness use their religion to fulfill more basic needs such as social relations or personal comfort, but “the embraced creed is lightly held or else selectively shaped to fit more primary needs” (Allport & Ross, 1967, p. 434).


Extrinsic religiousness was first described by Gordon Allport and colleagues in the 1960s (see Allport & Ross, 1967) when investigating the possible reasons for discrepant findings in the area of religiousness and prejudice. At that time, some studies demonstrated that religiousness was positively associated with prejudice, whereas other studies found the opposite. Allport hypothesized that one’s religious orientation, or sentiment, may provide guidance in sorting o ...

This is an excerpt from the content