Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

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Hood, R. Stevenson, D. The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism. New York: Guilford Press. Hill, P. Measures of Religiosity. Benner, D. Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling 2nd ed. Selected Publications Hill, P. Measurement in the psychology of religion and spirituality. Paloutzian and C. Park Eds.

Measurement in the psychology of religiousness and spirituality: Existing measures and new frontiers. Pargament Ed. Jones Assoc. From concept to science: Continuing steps in workplace spirituality research. Exline, J. Humility: A consistent and robust predictor of generosity.

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Journal of Positive Psychology. Toward a science of workplace spirituality: Contributions from the psychology of religion and spirituality. Dik Eds. Cohen, A.

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Religion as culture: Religious individualism and collectivism among American Catholics, Jews, and Protestants. Journal of Personality, 75 , Advances in the conceptualization and measurement of religion and spirituality: Implications for physical and mental health research. American Psychologist , 58, Spiritual transformation: Forming the habitual center of personal energy. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion , 13, Sandage S. The virtues of positive psychology: The rapprochement and challenges of an affirmative postmodern perspective.

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour , 31, Affect, religion, and unconscious processes. Journal of Personality , 67, Giving religion away: What the study of religion offers psychology. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion , 9, On the contrary, they are separate and independent orientations, and each has its own peculiar consequences for the behaviour of individuals. Robert O. Allen and Bernard Spilka, on their part, worked out an analytical criterion which takes into account two socio-psychological variables involved in the relationship between prejudices and religion.

Allen and Spilka, An empirical study carried out by L. Gorlow and H. Schroeder enabled them to identify a more or less exhaustive set of reasons for participating in religious activities cf. Gorlow and Schroeder, To be able to grasp how individuals perceive the characteristic statements and representations of the religious tradition they belong to, R.

The Psychology of Religion - Steven Pinker

Hunt took as his starting point an analysis of religious language, identifying a possible three-fold attitude. Hunt, , p. It is, therefore, an unconditional acceptance of traditional religious doctrine, which can easily be measured with investigating and recording tools. Such a refusal of faith as a whole, which Hunt relates to that of adolescents confronted with their parents, when they are worried about their identity, is justified through the lack of scientific backing.

The subject embracing this attitude is able to make a synthesis between what is affirmed by religious orthodoxy and the needs of our contemporary world, which represents a mature form of commitment. Charles Y. Glock and Stark, , pp.

Following the identification of five general membership expectations present in religious institutions, five other dimensions emerged for classifying people according to their degree of commitment and involvement in the religious dynamics. Such dimensions turned out to be universal, as it is possible to find within them all the various manifestations that characterize different religions. In view of this dimension the subject is also able to recognise the validity and reliability of the different religious beliefs. It can take the form of ritual practice, if it refers to rituals one necessarily has to go through to be able to define membership, or as a devotional practice, if it regards the informal, spontaneous and private religious practices.

Obviously, this does not mean that knowledge automatically gives rise to faith, or that the latter should lead to knowledge: indeed, a believer may well possess little information on the contents of his or her faith, despite fully accepting it and actively living it out. Research and its applications by a number of scholars in different and diversified cultural contexts highlight three particularly significant points: they definitely confirm that religiosity shows multi-fold dimensions and contains many variables, despite its connections with the different interpretative models available; its key components concern the system of convictions and existential motives, the emotional involvement and rituals in a concrete socio-cultural context; the consequential dimension, in both its modal and social forms, is held to be a dependent variable rather than an integral part of the religiosity notion, as the social and moral consequences do arise from the religious phenomenon, but do not overlap with it.

For others religiosity consists in an attempt to find encouragement in group membership in defending a system of behaviours and moral choices seemingly threatened in a social context abolishing or overturning all the values that previously guaranteed and safeguarded humankind. There is yet another order of motives making experience profoundly rich and a genuine growth factor. In this case, though, sooner or later, its frailty will show, in certain cases paired with a degree of regression to states of child dependence, or will be considered something pointless, trifling, unnecessary.

Religiosity, then, will not be opposed to conditioning factors or childhood traumas, or to unfavorable circumstances, but will undergo a wide transformation which will make it an independent and specific source of well-being, liberating energy and loving drive.

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The long track to be followed to differentiate the various constituting elements of human religiosity necessarily leads one to wonder in what ways such a vital aspect of human life can reach its maturity and especially whether there is such a thing as religious maturity. On his part, Freud believed that religion even had a perverse and neurotic sense, whereas Jung, taking his own clinical experience as his starting point, stressed the connections of most of neurotic situations with religious problems though related to a kind of religiosity bound to religious archetypes and to elements of the archaic and collective unconscious, rather than to a sense of personal responsibility.

However important it is to take into account the possibility of achieving religious maturity, in this context it is equally important to consider the problem from a process point of view. And that is what matters. This dimension makes it possible to move beyond the problem of potential maturity in the field of religion, by conversely giving priority to what is actually there, that is a continuum of religiosity each person recognizes on the basis of the integration of different psychological components acting together to make that person potentially religious.

Human beings cannot do without religion, not only the one confessed and institutionalized, but above all the silent and suffused one, which underlies their behaviors and the different forms of religious acculturation it is subject to. In this respect, psychology of religion teaches to consider the individual as a developing being, whose attitudes towards the Absolute are not dissociated from the development of his or her personality.

Hyde, Such aspects have to be taken into account simultaneously to facilitate a dynamic rather than a static interpretation of what can be defined as an ongoing build-up of religious maturity. Basically originating and developing on the dialectic relationship between complementary elements of human experience, mature religiosity… necessarily feels a tension towards greater and all-encompassing truths ; it openly embraces the risk entailed by this search.

The latter cannot only be an idealistic one expressing an unattainable form of religiosity, with God proposing unattainable things to come into contact with Him. These may even signal an inner drive every person can be aware of and therefore embrace opening up to the mysteries of the Absolute. It is here then that one finds the focus of overall religiosity, which combines the various developing components duly laid out to nurture a form of progress that may truly meet human needs.

We can then agree with Hyde as he claims that there is a kind of maturity provided for by the level of religious knowledge which is referred to by the different agencies of religious training school, catechism, etc. Yet, it is also possible to consider the maturity deriving from the planning and motivation ability of adult individuals, which is itself in continuous evolution. Indeed the latter satisfies the pull they feel to improve their condition, a process in which religiosity has a major part to play cf. Hyde, , pp. In this respect it is significant to review some aspects which play an essential role within the economy of the process of religious maturity.

This shows that the yardstick of the evolution process in question is provided by the religious fact as an experience belonging to individuals relating with the absolute and marked by the development of an intentionality meant to provide room for the individual as a protagonist of religiosity.

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The psychology behind religious belief

People are intentionally oriented to live out religiosity as an integral part of their existence, despite their different ways of expressing it according to their development phases, as they try to identify satisfactory responses to questions regarding meaning which life continuously asks them. This is what the perception of a sacred dimension is aimed at. Mion, The same applies to other situations in which religiosity is not clearly apparent in its manifestations, or where these are not sufficiently diversified to be able to classify them according to the expected standards of religious maturity.

Gaining awareness, then, represents the fundamental strategy of an intentional process within which the continuous development of religious maturity moves. Awareness, then, is bound to enhance the ability to access reality. Yet, this is not always the case. The contact that is made is not a static one, but it is meant to be a continuous process in which individuals become aware of themselves, of their own functional limitations, as well as of their different growing dimensions, focussing their attention on others.

This positive religiosity movement is based on the assumption that a person that is in touch with his own religious development in the sense of knowing again and again that the religiosity continuum re-presents itself as a process of continuous growth for the person in the different dimensions may be able to recognise God as Other with a capital O, the God-with-us, the fundamental-Other of their own human experience.

Such a process, which covers the whole lifespan, is the essential premise for the development of religiosity to really be autonomous, despite being enriched by a number of conditioning factors. Obviously, just as this maturation process is not limited to a single period or even more to a single dimension, it also presupposes the direction this religious sentiment of the individual takes.

By recognising that otherness, seen as a fundamental tendency of human maturity, in addition to being a constitutive element of every psychological recognition carried out by the person, it represents the best location where the religious subject interacts with and enriches that relationship with his or her deeply human, and at the same time divine, experience.

What Strunk affirms is still defensible. Through understanding the multiple meanings of this interpretation of religious maturity, he believes that religion, in its ongoing development, is a dynamic organization of cognitive-affective-conative factors possessing certain depth qualities verging on the sublime, including a highly articulate and refined system of beliefs, purified through critical processes from childish desires, intensely pursued and comprehensive enough to provide a positive meaning for all life incidents.

The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, 4 Volume Set, 4th Edition

This system of beliefs, despite being a searching force, will include the conviction of the existence of a higher Power, towards which a person can experience a feeling of friendly continuity. The dynamic relationship between this system of beliefs and these experience landmarks engenders feelings of admiration and fear, along with a sense of unity with the whole, humbleness, enthusiasm and freedom.

In recent years the interest of the psychology of religion is turning to the interpretation of all religious forms, be they aggregating or not, which are defined as New Movements ; sometimes they are difficult to be classified and have no precise Church teaching background. Their rise is due both to their opening to the eastern world and to their greater contact with a US background.

Quite often reference has been made to the supine sectum of the verb secare , to indicate a group within the sect which has broken up from the main trunk of one of the great religions, criticizing its teaching and institutional methods. It is quite important, though, to draw a clear distinction between those Movements referring to noble and consolidated religious Oriental traditions, and particularly to Hinduism and to Buddhism, and those Movements which, without any references to doctrines, or in clear opposition to other widespread and widely accepted doctrines, show a strict fundamentalist orientation.

The swift spread of the New Religious Movements as a phenomenon is no doubt a relevant one from a sociological point of view, but even more from a religious and psychological point of view. Sociologically speaking, New Religious Movements members show a dual character especially due to the extraordinary variety of aggregating forms: on the one hand, due to the lack of institutional references, they tend to look universal, oriented to welcoming any proposals, prepared to take any paths in search of their inner life and capable of submitting to any hygiene and health practices, as long as they can reach well-being; on the other, they are a dissident minority, intolerant in their behavior and looking to find new members, sometimes with a narrow view of interpersonal relationships and a great charge of fanaticism, leading them to seek isolation from the social context and to reject any relationship with those who do not share their religious beliefs.

By so doing, they exclude any interreligious dialogue and any opening to doctrinal debating. From the psychological point of view, the focus must then be shifted to the personal dynamics at play in an individual deciding to join a New Religious Movement as well as to the needs that seem to be met by joining it. Research shows that these groups promise to free man from negative influences, diseases, unhappiness, existential issues, sentimental disappointments, psychological uneasiness at a personal or at a family level.

At the same time, they offer a warm caring welcome, trust, understanding and love.