Laura Upenieks

Laura Upenieks
Assistant Professor of Sociology
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Ph.D., Sociology, University of Toronto, 2019
M.A., Sociology, University of Toronto, 2014
BSc., Psychology and Sociology with High Distinction, University of Toronto, 2013


Dr. Laura Upenieks received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2019 and joined the Baylor faculty in 2020. Her research interests are in religion and health, aging and the life course, and quantitative methods. She is currently conducting research focused on integrating life course models of health and social network analysis to better understand the relationship between religion and well-being, and on how life course inequalities shape health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Laura's recent research is published or forthcoming in Journal of Health and Social Behavior, British Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, Social Science Research, Research on Aging, Review of Religious Research, and Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Laura is an incoming editorial board member of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Recent Publications

Upenieks, Laura. Forthcoming. “The Assurance of Things Hoped For, The Conviction of Things Not Seen: Racial Differences in the Effects of Changes in Religiosity and Hope in Later Life.” Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging.

Upenieks, Laura and Colton L. Daniels. Forthcoming. “Unfair Treatment by the Police and Race: Is Religiosity a Protective Resource for Well-Being?” Social Currents.

Upenieks, Laura. Forthcoming. “Psychological Resilience after Cancer via Religion/Spirituality: Spiritual Capital Through a Life Course Lens.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Upenieks, Laura, and Yingling Liu. 2021. “Does Religiosity Predict Future Health Expectations? Using a Life Course Framework to Test Multiple Mechanisms.” Journal of Religion and Health. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-021-01441-0

Upenieks, Laura, and Yingling Liu. 2021. “Marital Strain and Support and Subjective WellBeing in Later Life: Ascribing a Role to Childhood Adversity.” Journal of Aging and Health. DOI: 10.1177/08982643211048664

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Never More Than I Can Handle? A Longitudinal Consideration of Racial Differences in Trust-Based Prayer Expectancies and Satisfaction in Later Life.” Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging

Upenieks, Laura, Jeremy E. Uecker, and Markus H. Schafer. 2021. “Couple Religiosity and Well-Being among Older Adults in the United States?” Journal of Aging and Health.

Upenieks, Laura and Christos Orfanidis. 2021. “Social Trust, Religiosity, and Self-Rated Health in the Context of National Religious Pluralism.” Journal of Religion and HealthDOI:

Sendroiu, Ioana, Laura Upenieks, and Markus H. Schafer. “The Divergent Mental Health Effects of Dashed Expectations and Unfulfilled Aspirations: Evidence from American Lawyers’ Careers.” Social Psychology Quarterly

Bonhag, Rebecca, and Laura Upenieks (equal co-authorship). “Mattering to God and to the Congregation: Gendered Effects in Mattering as a Mechanism between Religiosity and Mental Health.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Uncertainty in Faith, Fear of Death? Transitions in Religious Doubt and Death Anxiety in Later Life.” Journal of Death and Dying. DOI: 10.1177/00302228211029475

Upenieks, Laura and Joanne Ford-Robertson. 2021. “Give Thanks in All Circumstances? Gratitude Towards God and Health in Later Life after Major Life Stressors.” Research on Aging

Miles, Andrew, and Laura Upenieks (equal authorship). 2021. “Moral Self-Appraisals Explain the Emotional Rewards of Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Happiness Studies

Miles, Andrew, Meena Andiappan, Laura Upenieks, and Christos Orfanidis. 2021. “Prosocial behavior can safeguard mental health and foster emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.” PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-021-01334-2

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Does the Belief in Biblical Literalism Matter for Mental Health? Assessing Variations by Gender and Religious Dimensions.” Journal of Religion and Health. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-021-01334-2

Upenieks, Laura, and Patricia A. Thomas. 2021. “Gaining Faith, Losing Faith: How Education Shapes the Relationship between Religious Transitions and Later Depression.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. DOI: 10.1177/00221465211046356

Upenieks, Laura, Ioana Sendroiu, Ron Levi, and John L. Hagan. 2021. “Beliefs in Legality and Benefits for Mental Health.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Louie, Patricia, Laura Upenieks, Christy L. Erving, and Courtney Thomas. 2021. “Do Racial Differences in Coping Resources Explain the Black-White Paradox in Mental Health? A Test of Multiple Mechanisms.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. DOI: 10.1177/00221465211041031

Upenieks, Laura, Scott Schieman, and Alex Bierman. 2021.  "Jitters on the Eve of the Great Recession: The Belief in Divine Control as a Protective Resource?” Sociology of Religion.

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Aspiring to Do All Things Through Him Who Strengthens? Quixotic Hope, Religiosity, and Mental Health.” Society and Mental Health

Bierman, Alex, Laura Upenieks (equal first authorship), and Scott Schieman. 2021. “Socially Distant? Social Network Confidants, Loneliness, and Self-Rated Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Social Currents.

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Through Him and With Him? God-Mediated Control, Divine Forgiveness and Health in Later Life.” Journal of Aging and Health.

Schafer, Markus H. and Laura Upenieks. 2021. “Functional Disability and the Role of Children in U.S. Older Adults’ Core Discussion Networks.” Network Science9(2), 194-212.  

Bierman, Alex, Laura Upenieks, Paul Glavin, and Scott Schieman. 2021. “Economic Hardship and Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Social Causation, Social Selection, or Economic Dependence?” Social Science and Medicine 275:113774. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.113774

Upenieks, Laura, Matthew A. Andersson, and Markus H. Schafer. 2021. “God, Mother, Father, Gender: Childhood Religiosity, Parental Warmth, and Flourishing at Midlife.” Journal of Happiness Studies

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Change in Religious Doubt and Physical and Mental Health in Emerging Adulthood.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Upenieks, Laura. 2021. “Resilience in the Aftermath of Childhood Abuse? Changes in Religiosity and Adult Mental Health.” Journal of Religion and Health.

Upenieks, Laura, and Markus H. Schafer. 2021. “Keeping ‘In Touch’: Demographic Patterns of Interpersonal Touch in Later Life.” Research on Aging.

Louie, Patricia, Laura Upenieks, Arjumand Siddiqi, David R. Williams, and David Takeuchi. 2021. “Race, Flourishing, and All-Cause Mortality, 1995-2016.” American Journal of Epidemiology. 190(9): 1735-1743.

Hill, Terrence D., Kelsey E. Gonzalez, and Laura Upenieks. 2020. “Religiosity and Mobility in Aging Populations: A Multi-Level Analysis of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.” Journal of Aging and Health.

Liu, Yingling, and Laura Upenieks. 2020. “Marital Quality and Well-Being among Older Adults: A Typology of Supportive, Aversive, Indifferent and Ambivalent Marriages.” Research on Aging.

Upenieks, Laura, and Scott Schieman. 2020. “The Belief in Divine Control and the Mental Health Effects of Stressful Life Events: A Study of Education-Based Contingencies.” Review of Religious Research

Schafer, Markus H., Jason Settels, and Laura Upenieks. 2020. “As Goes the City? Older Americans’ Home Upkeep in the Aftermath of the Great Recession.” Social Problems 67(2):379- 97.

Upenieks, Laura, and Scott Schieman. 2020. “The Belief in Divine Control and the Mental Health Effects of Stressful Life Events: A Study of Education-Based Contingencies.” Review of Religious Research 63: 183-215.

Schafer, Markus H., Laura Upenieks, and Julia DeMaria. 2020. “Do HIV+ Older Adults Have Distinctive Personal Networks? Stigma, Network Activation, and the Role of Disclosure in South Africa.” AIDS and Behavior 

Sendroiu, Ioana, and Laura Upenieks. 2020. “The Contextual Effects of Trust on Perceived Support: Evidence from Roma and Non-Roma in East-Central Europe.” British Journal of Sociology. 71(4):702-21.

UpenieksLaura and Markus H. Schafer. 2020. “Religious Attendance over the Life Course and Physical Well-Being in Later Life: Integrating Life Course Models of Health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 61(4):486-502.

Upenieks, Laura. 2020. “The Influence of Close Ties on Depression: Does Network Religiosity Matter?” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 59(3):484-508. 

Upenieks, Laura, Markus H. Schafer, and Andreea Mogosanu. 2019. “Does Childhood Religiosity Delay Death?” Journal of Religion and Health.

Magee, William, and Laura Upenieks. 2019. "Gender Differences in Self-Esteem, Unvarnished Self-Evaluation, Future Orientation, Self-Enhancement and Self-Derogation in a U.S. National Sample.” Personality and Individual Differences 149:66-77.

Schieman, Scott, Alex Bierman, and Laura Upenieks. 2019. “Heartless Conservatives and Bleeding Heart Liberals? How Religiosity Shapes the Relationship between Political Orientation and Empathy.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 58(2): 360-77.

View Dr. Upenieks's Full Curriculum Vitae.

Department of Sociology

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