Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Gregory Brack - Chair

Second Advisor

Asa Hilliard III

Third Advisor

Kenneth B. Matheny

Fourth Advisor

Julie Ancis


When describing faith development, established models often fail to incorporate the effects of an individual’s sociocultural context and control for additional dimensions of their identity such as ethnicity, gender and religious denomination (Mattis, 2001; Myers, 1991; Willis, 2005). This study involved 18 African American women and men between the ages of twenty and seventy-seven who identified as Baptist Church goers within the Southeastern region of the United States. A mixed methods design informed by interpretive and emerging social network paradigms was used (Hanson, 2005; LeCompte & Schensul, 1999). There were two phases of this study. Within phase one, twelve participants completed one semi-structured interview and the Optimal Theory and Identity Development-Revised (OTAID-R) instrument (Haggins, 1996) which was designed to evaluate identity development along multiple dimensions, including spirituality. Within phase two, six participants took part in a follow-up focus group to validate the emergent themes. Grounded theory was used to analyze the data (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). A circular socioculturally informed model of faith development was devised. The current model was most congruent with African centered models of faith development and revealed non-linear process of faith development. The OTAID-R survey was not significantly correlated with the age of the participants. Implications for research and practice include the importance of considering sociocultual context and experience when conceptualizing developmental processes within a culturally informed framework.