The Complexity of Quest in Emerging Adults' Religiosity, Well-Being, and Identity

Kaye V. Cook
Cynthia Kimball, Wheaton College, Wheaton Illinois
Kathleen C. Leonard
Chris Boyatzis, Bucknell University


The construct of quest as measured by the Quest Scale raises complexities that this study addressed with online surveys measuring religiosity, ego identity, and well-being of graduates from two Christian colleges. Intrinsic questers (those above the scale midpoint in intrinsic and quest scores but below the extrinsic midpoint) made up over half of those high in intrinsic religiosity and did not differ in Christian orthodoxy, religious identity, religious coping, or well-being from the pure intrinsics (those high in intrinsic religiosity). Indiscriminately pro-religious questing individuals (those high in intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity and quest) were less religious and showed poorer coping than intrinsic questers. Quest appears to be a reasonable measure of religious orientation, improving prediction of Christian orthodoxy, religious identity, and religious coping, and was more highly correlated with ego identity exploration than with stress. In association with intrinsic religiosity quest does not appear to indicate weak religiosity or poor well-being. Instead, intrinsic questers may pursue a distinctive developmental trajectory, a path of existential searching by which emerging adults manage the demands of contemporary culture while maintaining a mature faith.