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Psychology of religion: Placing paradigm in a historical and metatheoretical perspective.

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Comments that R. L. Gorsuch (see record 1985-02900-001) cogently discussed both the current status and the prospects for future success of the measurement paradigm in psychology of religion. S. McFarland (see record 1985-02927-001) criticized Gorsuch's measurement paradigm as being too narrow and proposed that personological and comparative approaches be added to form a more encompassing paradigm. It is suggested that there are historical forebears to McFarland's call and that a broader paradigm must be based on a conceptual framework. (21 ref)

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Drawing upon illustrations of research in psychology and religion, this essay sketches a historical account of twentieth century scholarship in terms of three phases. In the early modern phase research was “problem-centered”: scholars customarily drew upon expertise in cognate areas of inquiry in solving a problem. In the modern phase research is “specialization-based”: scholars develop competence in the perspectives, concepts, and methods peculiar to their subfield. In the late modern phase research is “interdisciplinary” and “multidisciplinary”: scholars achieve proficiency in cognate subfields and acquire fluency in coordinating the assumptions, concepts, and methods of those subfields. This historical account provides the context and warrant for formulating an enterprise expressing the spirit of the late modern phase: critical psychologies of religious matters.
Article
Comments that R. L. Gorsuch (see record 1985-02900-001) cogently discussed both the current status and the prospects for future success of the measurement paradigm in psychology of religion. S. McFarland (see record 1985-02927-001) criticized Gorsuch's measurement paradigm as being too narrow and proposed that personological and comparative approaches be added to form a more encompassing paradigm. It is suggested that there are historical forebears to McFarland's call and that a broader paradigm must be based on a conceptual framework. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This essay is specifically an argument for a synoptic orientation for the study of the psychology of religion. The argument derived from a historical review of the field begins with the problem of lacking a coherent and comprehensive methodology, proceeds with definitions of the two traditional research orientations (the empirical and the phenomenological), shows their major weaknesses, and concludes with historical evidence in support of the thesis. The main distinction between the orientations is that the empiricists insist that knowledge is reducible to sensory experience such as observation and the phenomenologists reject this claim insisting that knowledge is not reducible to sensory experience. Thus an orientation is needed which includes the strengths of both the empirical and phenomenological views and which excludes their weaknesses. Such an orientation is the synoptic which includes the rigor of empiricism without its reductionism and includes the challenge of the phenomenologists without their insufficient means for validity.
Article
be done. Such evidence is needed to provide better care for future patients. This argument is reasonable and even persuasive, but like many arguments on ethical issues, it presents only one side. One must also consider present patients. For our medical colleagues the now infamous Tuskegee experiment has dramatically made this point. In order to determine the effectiveness of techniques used to treat syphillus, a true experiment was run. Treatment was withheld from a randomly selected group of patients. As expected, the experiment supported the hypothesis that the treatment was effective. Patients who received treatment were cured; patients in the no-treatment control group suffered gradual debilitation and in some cases death as a result of having untreated syphillus. This experiment provided reliable evidence that the treatment was effective, but even if this information allowed physicians to treat future patients more efficiently and effectively, most people would consider the research unjustifiable on ethical grounds. Human life seems too high a price to pay for the added confidence in causal inference that this experimental evidence provided over the previously available quasi-experimental evidence.
Article
Experimentation, a research method that has proven extremely useful in other areas of psychology, has been used only rarely in psychology of religion. The value of experimentation lies in its effectiveness in testing scientific theories. Lack of experimentation may be one reason there has been so little progress in developing and testing scientific theories in psychology of religion. But ethical and practical restrictions make it unlikely that experimentation will ever be widely used in research on religion. Quasi-experimental methods do, however, seem possible. Several quasi-experimental designs particulary relevant to psychological research on religion are discussed, and greater use of quasi-experimental methods is encouraged.
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In commenting on the article by R. L. Gorsuch (see record 1985-02900-001) concerning the measurement of religion, the author calls for a broader paradigm than that now dominating the psychology of religion. Is is argued that the underlying measurement view of science that pervades the psychology of religion is limited and inaccurate. The insistence in this view that only quantifiable data can be a part of science prevents the personological and comparative approaches from assuming their proper complementary roles and retards the development of the discipline. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Psychologists investigating religion generally function within a common measurement paradigm. The result has been high-quality psychometric scales that strongly predict behavior (providing an adequate model is utilized). A major problem within the paradigm is the uni- or multidimensionality of religious phenomena. A model is suggested with general religiousness as a broad construct (higher-order factor) that is subdivided into a set of more specific factors, thus maintaining the advantages of both approaches. (35 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Whoever undertakes to make a general survey of recent publications in this field meets the problem of deciding upon the range within which titles should be chosen. Shall the choice be restricted to technical contributions to science, or shall account be taken, rather, of the entire movement through which a psychology of religion is beginning to assume a definite place in all informed thinking about religion? "Popular psychology" is, for excellent reasons, a sore point with real psychologists. Nevertheless, religious reactions to the psychology of religion become fresh data for the psychologist. Moreover, a psychologist's criticism of them may ultimately assist religious thinkers to see clearly just what the psychology of religion is about, and what its methods and results are. For these reasons the present survey includes, along with a few technical works, and a few that provide fresh data, a considerable number that indicate changes of religious thought and of practice that can be traced to the psychology of religion as one of the prominent causes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
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