Kyle C. Longest

B.A. Sociology, History: Indiana University - Bloomington
M.A. Sociology, Ph.D. Sociology: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 Bio      |      Courses     |     Research     |     Vitae   

I completed my undergraduate degree in History and Sociology at Indiana University and earned my PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill. My research centers on understanding how teens make the transition out of high school, focusing on substance use, religion and academic behaviors.  I currently teach courses on Deviance, Religions, Research Methods, Quantitative Analysis, the Sociology of Harry Potter, and most recently Sports Analytics.  With two children under the age of 3, I don't have a lot of free time, but when I do I am typically playing or (more likely) watching sports, particularly college football and my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Although during basketball season, I am a Hoosier by birth and a Tar Heel by training.  (Yeah, my kids are going to be super confused when it comes to "who we root for.")


SOC 101 – Introduction to Sociology [syllabus

SOC 213 – Deviance and Social Control [syllabus]

SOC 233 – Sociology of Religion 

SOC 302 – Methods of Social Research [syllabus]

SOC 303 – Quantitative Analysis [syllabus]

MXP 151- Muggles and Mudbloods: The Sociology of Harry Potter

MXP 251 - Beyond Moneyball: Applied Study of Sports Analytics

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My overarching goal is to investigate how macro domains, including family, culture, education, and religion, shape human behavior across the life course. More specifically, most of my work seeks to understand how institutional factors, mediated by social psychological processes, impact the transition from adolescence to adulthood. I am currently engaged in several ongoing projects to address these aims. These collaborations encompass the substantive areas of deviance, values, and health, and all utilize and develop quantitative methodologies, especially with respect to combinatorial statistical methods.

Another way that I have extended my research agenda has been through the development and application of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) techniques. QCA is a configural analytic approach that examines how combinations of predictors conjoin to create sufficient and necessary conditions for a given outcome of interest. With Stephen Vaisey (UC-Berkeley), I have developed statistical methods for creating and testing configurations of behaviors that bring the conceptual framework of QCA closer to the statistical rigor of regression-based methods, helping to extend its applicability to large-N samples and a broad range of substantive topics. As a first step in this process, we developed the statistical software to implement these techniques. Together we have written a comprehensive Stata package for conducting (fs)QCA, including our newly developed statistical tests, which was published in Stata Journal. Currently, we are in the process of writing a methods paper that uses simulations to test and compare the validity of the available statistical strategies for performing and interpreting QCA analyses. My hope is this work will help encourage other scholars to consider the utility of combinatorial methods for their own research.

Selected Ongoing Research and Descriptions

Longest, Kyle C. “Popularity Lost: Identity Status and Its Consequences in the Transition to Young Adulthood.”  

Status generally is considered a social marker that allows individuals with it to accrue valuable rewards and benefits. Consistent with this framework, in adolescence consensus holds that, when compared to students in high status crowds, students in lower status crowds tend to have lower grades and participate in deviant behaviors at high levels, both of which are assumed to create difficulties for these students in young adulthood. This analysis, founded on status characteristics theory, questions this assumed relationship and argues that adolescents with high status identities are no different with respect to academic achievement or deviance than low status students. Further, relatively popular adolescents may struggle more in sustaining post high school academic and work trajectories than their less popular peers. Using a nationally representative, longitudinal data set, the National Study of Youth and Religion (N = 3,290)and propensity score matching, to isolate the impact of status on academic achievement, results show that popular adolescents do not attain better grades than their less popular peers and use alcohol and marijuana more frequently. This negative association extends into young adulthood as high status in adolescence is a significant risk factor for heavy alcohol use and disrupted education and employment roles after high school. Collectively, the results reveal significant consequences for holding a high status identity in adolescence, many of which may have a negative enduring impact on adult socioeconomic attainment.

Longest, Kyle C. and Beth A. Latshaw. “Ecological Survivor: Teaching Undergraduates about Global Stratification Through a Classroom Simulation Game” Revise and Resubmit to Teaching Sociology

Drawing from Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel (1997), this article describes an interactive, classroom simulation game, Ecological Survivor, designed to teach students how ecological factors have pushed societies toward disparate trajectories of global development. Instructors consistently face challenges when teaching students to think critically about the roots and consequences of global inequality. This activity provides a unique first-hand experience that helps students understand how environmental and social conditions contributed to the unequal historical paths societies have taken over time. Working in small groups called “tribes,” students must employ strategies to survive and conserve their “life points” through several rounds of play while facing different environmental conditions. This pedagogical tool prompts students to experience and meaningfully reflect on a world where goods and opportunities are unequally distributed and choices are inequitably rewarded. Students consistently rate the simulation as enjoyable and enhancing their understanding of the teaching objectives.

Longest, Kyle C., Steve Hitlin, and Stephen Vaisey. “Position and Disposition: An Empirical Review of the Social Predictors of Human Values.” Revised and Resubmitted to Social Forces.

Research on the importance of values for shaping a wide range of social and political phenomena is making a resurgence across the social sciences. However, this research often truncates either the number of explored social structural antecedents, often focusing primarily on economic predictors of values -- or the range of values under exploration.  In this paper, we make two advances on the prior scholarship linking social structural variables to individual values. First, the European Social Survey allows simultaneous analysis of the relationship of a full swath of theoretically important social influences -- such as socioeconomic status gender, religion, cohort, and adult role transitions – allowing the incorporation of a series of life course variables alongside the more typically studied economic predictors. Secondly, while previous work focuses on one value or dimension at a time, we employ multiple empirical techniques alongside improved measures of values to model the entire range of individuals' value orientations, focusing both on absolute and relative value ratings. Results of these multifaceted models indicate that traditional institutions, such as religion and parenthood, are associated with more concern for the welfare of others and maintaining the status quo, whereas more individually-oriented occupational factors like higher income and self-employment are linked to achievement and change-related values. Yet, several factors, such as education and gender, have nuanced associations when individual values are examined as part of a coherent system rather than in isolation. We discuss the meaning of these complexities and their impact on the continued examination of human values.

Kim, Phillip, Kyle C. Longest, and Mingxiang Li. “Diving in Before Testing the Waters: Experience Occupational Characteristics, and Venture Organizing Processes.” Under Review. 

Our study develops theory and provides evidence for why industry experience and occupational characteristics cause founders to organize new businesses in different ways. Scholars offer conflicting accounts for how people pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and order their business creation activities. Our causal theory predicts that experienced founders and those working in analytically oriented occupations are more likely to research and justify their business opportunities before other organizing activities. We use exploded logistic (rank-order logit) models to investigate how these factors influence the likelihood of start-up activities being ordered in particular sequences. Findings from a random U.S. sample of business founders confirm our predictions. Given that most founders work full-time prior to starting their own business and that existing research has affirmed the importance of experience in founding outcomes, our study specifies more precisely why experience matters for entrepreneurial action.

Smith, Christian and Kyle C. Longest. “Beliefs about Religion and Science among Emerging Adults in the U.S.: An Exploratory Analysis” Revised and Resubmitted to Sociological Forum.

A wide held assumption is that increased religiousness is associated with stronger perceptions of a conflict between religion and science. This paper examines this assumption using four distinct questions asked on the third wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR). Results indicate a variety of viewpoints for constructing the relationship between science and religion differently, rather than a simple conflict-compatibility continuum. Further, findings suggest that increased religiousness among emerging adults is associated with a stronger agreement in science and religion’s compatibility, rather than conflict. Incorporating new age or non-western spiritual tradition and a strict adherence to fundamentalist Christian doctrine are associated with complex configurations of beliefs on the relationship between religion and science.  Collectively, the findings call for further examination of how people configure unique beliefs on the relationship between religion and science, as well as the social factors that may promote particular perspectives. More broadly, the findings among emerging adults contradict traditional assumptions about how religious experiences influence beliefs, suggesting that such social factors may influence beliefs and attitudes uniquely at different points in the life course or across generations.

Longest, Kyle C., Patricia Snell, and Christian Smith. “Tipping the Plate: Understanding the Role of Financial Anxiety in Religious Giving.” Revise and Resubmit to Social Forces

While many studies investigate predictors of charitable giving, the relationship between economic, social group, and social psychological correlates of giving are underexplored. This study examines these interrelationships by analyzing the connection between financial giving and income, financial obligations, levels of voluntary religious participation, religious tradition, and financial anxiety. Financial anxiety is hypothesized to mediate the relationship between financial constraints and monetary giving, as well as moderate the relationship between income and giving.  Data analyzed are from the Economic Values Survey (EVS), a nationally representative survey of the American labor force. Results indicate that objective financial obligations only minimally limit financial giving, and concern over one’s financial situation is not related to decreased levels of giving.  Financial anxiety, however, does inhibit the positive relationship of higher income on monetary giving. This finding suggests that periods of increased financial anxiety, as during the current economic recession, may cause declines in religious giving, net of people’s tangible resources.

Kim, Phillip H., Kyle C. Longest, and Howard Aldrich. “Task-Role Alignment of Social Support and Entrepreneurial Persistence” 

Informal social relations play a significant support role in people’s professional lives. We question the nearly universal assumption that, when receiving support, “more is better.” Analyzing a nationally representative sample of business founders, we find support for an alternative hypothesis: Social support’s effectiveness on entrepreneurial persistence depends on alignment between the task performed and the roles of a recipient’s supporters. Family provides the most effective instrumental support, whereas non-family relations seem best at providing informational support. We argue that task-role aligned support causes founders to persist longer in their startup efforts and suggest that misaligned support can produce negative consequences.

Longest, Kyle C. “Identity Toolkits: Cultural Scripts and Religious Identity Development in the Transition to Young Adulthood.” 

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