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Dan Olson

Dan Olson

Professor Emeritus // Sociology
Emeriti Faculty

Professor // SIS

Professor // Religious Studies // SIS

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Ph.D., Sociology, University of Chicago (1987)



sociology of religion; methods and statistics; social networks; theory

Dan Olson received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago (1987) and came to Purdue faculty in August of 2007. His research focuses on ways that the religious composition of geographic areas (e.g., the percent of the population in a county, state, or country that identifies with particular religious groups) affects other variables. One line of research examines how religious geography affects the religious behavior of individuals and religious organizations in these same areas (e.g., “Religious Pluralism and Participation: Why Previous Research is Wrong,” American Sociological Review, 2002, and “Why Do Small Religious Groups Have More Committed Members?” Review of Religious Research, 2008). More recently his focus has been on ways that religious geography affects non-religious behaviors and attitudes, for example the willingness of people to trust others, including strangers (e.g., "How Does the Religious Composition of Nations Affect Generalized Social Trust? Moral Community and Religious Heterogeneity." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2015). He is co-editor with Detlef Pollack of The Role of Religion in Modern Societies (Routledge, 2007). He has served as Chair of the ASA Section on Sociology of Religion, President of the Religious Research Association, and President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion. See personal web page for more information about research, publications, and projects of interest to prospective graduate students.