Why Strict Churches Are Strong

Iannaccone, Laurence. "Why Strict Churches Are Strong," American Journal of Sociology, 99, no. 5 (March 1994): 1180-1211.

Iannaccone offers evidence that the strength of strict churches is neither a historical coincidence nor a statistical artifact. He concludes from his research that strictness makes organizations stronger and more attractive because it screens out members who lack commitment and stimulates participation among those who remain. The author uses rational choice theory to explain the success of sects, cults, and conservative denominations without recourse to assumptions of irrationality, abnormality, or misinformation. According to Iannaccone, the theory also predicts differences between strict and lenient groups, distinguishes between effective and counterproductive demands, and demonstrates the need to adapt strict demands in response to social change.(SM)