The Psychology of Religion : An Empirical Approach book cover
5th Edition

The Psychology of Religion
An Empirical Approach

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ISBN 9781462535989
Published October 17, 2018 by Guilford Press
656 Pages

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Book Description

Keeping up with the rapidly growing research base, the leading graduate-level psychology of religion text is now in a fully updated fifth edition. It takes a balanced, empirically driven approach to understanding the role of religion in individual functioning and social behavior. Integrating research on numerous different faith traditions, the book addresses the quest for meaning; links between religion and biology; religious thought, belief, and behavior across the lifespan; experiential dimensions of religion and spirituality; the social psychology of religious organizations; and connections to coping, adjustment, and mental disorder. Chapter-opening quotations and topical research boxes enhance the readability of this highly instructive text.

New to This Edition
*New topics: cognitive science of religion; religion and violence; and groups that advocate terrorist tactics.
*The latest empirical findings, including hundreds of new references.
*Expanded discussion of atheism and varieties of nonbelief.
*More research on religions outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, particularly Islam.
*State-of-the-art research methods, including techniques for assessing neurological states.

Table of Contents

1. The Psychological Nature and Functions of Religion
2. Foundations for an Empirical Psychology of Religion
3. Evolution, Neuropsychology, and Other Biological Aspects of Religion
4. Religion in Childhood
5. Religion in Adolescence and Young Adulthood
6. Adult Religious Issues
7. Religion, Aging, and Death
8. Conversion, Spiritual Transformation, and Deconversion
9. Relationships between Individuals and Religious Groups
10. Religious and Spiritual Experience
11. Mysticism
12. Religion, Morality, and Prejudice
13. Religion, Health, Psychopathology, and Coping
14. Epilogue
Author Index
Subject Index

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Ralph W. Hood, Jr., PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Leroy A. Martin Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is past president of the Psychology of Religion division of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of its William James Award, Virginia Sexton Mentoring Award, and Distinguished Service Award. He is cofounder of The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, for which he has served as coeditor and book review editor. Dr. Hood has also been editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and is currently coeditor of Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion.

Peter C. Hill, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Biola University’s Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, California. He is past president of the Psychology of Religion division of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of its William C. Bier Award and Distinguished Service Award. He is editor of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity.

Bernard Spilka, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Denver. He is past president of the Psychology of Religion division of the American Psychological Association and a recipient of its William James Award and Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Spilka has also been vice-president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and president of the Colorado Psychological Association and the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association. Now retired, he continues to write on the psychology of prayer and on religion, evolution, and genetics.


"This volume offers a depth of understanding and intellectual engagement rarely found in a textbook. In the fifth edition, Hood, Hill, and Spilka once again provide an authoritative study of the psychology of religion, integrating new perspectives and research findings. Drawing on evolutionary theory; neuroscience; and contemporary personality, social, and developmental psychology, the text examines religion as a vital force in individual and societal life. Scholars, applied scientists, and anyone yearning to better understand the psychological nature of religion will appreciate this book’s sophistication and accessibility."--Edward P. Shafranske, PhD, ABPP, Professor and Muriel Lipsey Chair in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, Pepperdine University

"Kudos to Hood, Hill, and Spilka--an all-star author team--for this comprehensive overview of the roots and fruits of religious experience. The fifth edition explores religion’s contribution to meaning, self-control, and social connections. It reveals insights into the biological, cognitive, and social psychology of religion, across the lifespan. And it discloses what psychological science has learned about fascinating topics, from gay conversion therapy to prayer to deconversion. A definitive yet accessible synopsis of a growing field."--David G. Myers, PhD, Department of Psychology, Hope College

"Hood, Hill, and Spilka have done it again with this fifth edition! This clear, thoughtful, and balanced text is full of wisdom informed by the authors' decades of scholarly work. The book is unbiased and objective, without being detached; it explores what we know about the psychology of religion, while also pointing out the holes in our current understanding. It considers the ways that religion is a central source of meaning, while paying attention to how this meaning affects all other aspects of a person's life. This text can be used well in both undergraduate classes and graduate seminars. It is a gem!"--Jeanne M. Slattery, PhD, Department of Psychology, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

"The rapid expansion of the psychology of religion makes it critical to discern what is valuable among 'new' ideas in relation to past accomplishments. This updated fifth edition helps both junior and senior scholars in this evaluative task. Spanning classic and emergent psychological topics, and tapping into an increasingly global literature, the authors highlight what is known and what remains to be investigated. For a survey course with upper-level undergraduates, the material can introduce the great breadth of the field. Seasoned graduate or postgraduate readers will find that a close reading reveals complex nuances of both theory and methodology and yields a long list of potential research projects. Students learn about the wide range of ways that scientific psychological principles can be applied to understanding religious beliefs, emotions, and behaviors."--Kevin L. Ladd, PhD, Department of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend

"Each of the authors has done pioneering work in the psychology of religion, making this one of the most comprehensive, respected, and valuable texts in the field. The fifth edition demonstrates that the authors have remained current and contemporary in their treatment of religion and spirituality, which renders this book ideal for psychology of religion coursework and for scholars interested in an overview of the subject. The authors are unapologetically empirical and scientific in their approach, which they present with an engaging, lively writing style. This classic text has just become even better."--Mark R. McMinn, PhD, ABPP, Graduate School of Clinical Psychology, George Fox University
-There is much here for parish clergy and chaplains, especially in the four chapters discussing the psychological aspects of faith formation through developmental stages and the opportunity to reflect upon patients' lives along the denomination/sect/cult continuum….This text belongs in the libraries of Clinical Pastoral Education centers and behavioral health care facilities.--Association of Professional Chaplains Forum Resource Reviews, 1/1/2020