Article

Psychology and Religion

Kathryn A. Johnson, Kathryn A. Johnson, Adam B. Cohen, Matthew J. Scott and Jordan W. Moon

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0066
Psychology and Religion

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Interest in the psychology of religion seems to wax and wane with current trends in psychological research. At the beginning of the 20th century, many of the founding fathers of psychology—notably William James—were intensely interested in religion. However, as behaviorists and psychoanalysts came to dismiss religion as either irrelevant or as psychopathology, religion fell out of favor in psychology. In the 1950s, however, social psychologists began to approach religion from an empirical perspective. Attention in the field was largely directed toward religious orientation, addressing questions related to prejudice, altruism, and mental health. These approaches continue today. There is also a discussion of religion in cognitive science today. Coupled with advances in evolutionary psychology, recent theorizing in the field approaches religion as based on a complex of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may either be adaptive or arise as by-products of other processes. The attacks of 11 September 2001 seem to have spurred this growing interest in religion.

Article.  12125 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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