Committee Chair

Hood, Ralph W., Jr.; Tucker, Jim

Committee Member

Rutledge, Valerie C.; Rausch, David


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Extensive research has been conducted in exploration of the American religious landscape, however recently has social science research started to explore Nonbelief in any detail. Research on Nonbelief has been limited as most research focuses on the popularity of the religious “nones” or the complexities of alternative faith expressions such as spirituality. Research has been limited in exploring the complexity of Nonbelief or how non-believers would identify themselves. Most research assumes nonbelievers are a monolithic group with no variation such as Atheism or Agnosticism. Through two studies, one qualitative and one quantitative, this study explored identity of Nonbelief. Study one (the qualitative study) discovered th at individuals have shared definitional agreement but use different words to describe the different types of Nonbelief. Moreover, social tension and life narrative play a role in shaping one’s ontological worldview. Through thematic coding, a typology of six different types of Nonbelief was observed. Those are Academic Atheists, Activist Atheist/Agnostics, Seeker Agnostics, Antitheists, Nontheists, and the Ritual Atheists. Study two explored the empiri cal aspects of these types related to the NEO Domain, RY FF Psychological Well-Being, Narcissism Personality Inventory, Multidimensional Anger Inventory, Dogmatism, and intersections related to religious and spiritual ontology. The research team observed that empirical measures can show significant differences and measure domain uniqueness. Study two seems to suggest there are unique as well as high and low scored empirical characteristics between each of the measures when compar ing the different types of Nonbelief.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Atheism; Agnosticism; Ex-church members -- Psychology


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations


xiv, 232 leaves




Under copyright.