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Psychology of Religion, 1st Edition

January 2016, ©2016
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The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out
, by Timothy Sisemore, provides an introduction to the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality utilizing a mixed method approach allowing persons of faith (and one who is an atheist) to give voice to their experience to supplement the quantitative research that has been done in the field. This text honors the value of religion and spirituality in the lives of the majority of humans while acknowledging the weaknesses and problems that come with faith as well.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: Outside -In and Inside -Out 1

From the Outside ]In: Psychological Science Looks at Religion and Spirituality, 2

Religion and Spirituality from the Inside ]Out, 10

Introducing the Cast, 11

Summary, 15

2 A Brief History of the Psychological Study of Religion and Spirituality 17

Major Theorists and Approaches of the 20th Century, 19

Religion Responds to Psychology, 37

Summary, 41

3 Biological Aspects of Religion and Spirituality 43

Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, 44

Genes, Heredity, and Religion/Spirituality, 48

The Cognitive Science of Religion, 50

The Neuroscience of Religion and Religious Experience, 58

Summary, 64

4 Religious and Spiritual Development in Childhood 67

Theories of Development, 68

The Stage Theories, 68

Born Believers?: Natural Foundations of Children’s Religion and Spirituality, 81

Children’s Religious Thoughts and Behaviors, 86

Moving Outward: Children and Attachment to God, 89

Summary, 92

5 Religion and Spirituality in Adolescents and Emerging Adults 93

Religious Demographics of Adolescents and Emerging Adults Or, an "Instagram" of Young Persons' Spirituality, 94

Forging a Religious Identity—or Not, 100

Religion, Spirituality, and Thriving, 118

Summary, 121

6 Religion in Adulthood 123

Religion and Spirituality in Adulthood, 123

Atheists and Agnostics, 137

Dimensions of Adult Religion: Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Quest, 142

Summary, 146

7 Religion and Spirituality in Aging and Death 147

Religion and Spirituality in Old Age, 148

Faith, Death, and the Afterlife, 157

Summary, 167

8 Individual Spiritual Transformation 169

Background of the Study of Spiritual Transformation and Conversion, 170

The Nature and Patterns of Spiritual Transformation and Conversion, 171

Explaining Conversion and Spiritual Transformation, 174

Summary, 187

9 The Individual and Religious Experience 189

Ordinary Religious Experiences, 190

Extraordinary Religious Experiences, 204

Summary, 212

10 Religion and Spirituality Promote Virtues and Values 213

Religion, Spirituality, and Goals, 214

Striving to Be Virtuous, 219

The Relationship of Religion and Spirituality to Moral and Altruistic Behavior, 230

Summary, 237

11 The Psychology of Religious Coping and Psychotherapy 239

The Psychology of Religious Coping, 240

Religion and Spirituality in Psychotherapy, 257

Summary, 262

12 Religious Communities 263

Religion and Spirituality in Families, 263

Religious Communities, 274

Religious Ritual, 279

Controversy in Religious Communities, 286

Summary, 290

13 Religion in the Context of Culture 291

Contributions of Religious Communities to Culture, 294

Fundamentalism and Right ]Wing Authoritarianism, 295

Issues Creating Conflict between Culture and Religion, 304

Summary, 313

14 Epilogue: The Road Ahead 315

Themes in the Current Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 315

Future Directions for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 316

References 319

Author Index 357

Subject Index 371

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Begins with the genetic aspects of religion and spirituality and moves outward through their growth over the lifespan, their impact on individual functioning and coping, and then their social manifestations from family to community.
  • Enhances understanding and respect among all parties. 
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"In the era of the internet where it seems increasingly difficult to get people read books, I thoroughly appreciate that you were able to pull together the complex literature on the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality the way you did – very engaging, accessible, sensitive, thorough, balanced, in-depth but not overwhelming, and coherent. I think that the textbook will be a valuable resource for master’s and PhD grad programs, not just undergraduate courses."
—Annette Mahoney, Professor of Psychology, Bowling Green State University

"This is a highly readable text that allows for an empathetic psychology of religion and spirituality that is both empirically sound and respectful to those whose faith commitments deserve to be understood and not simply explained away."
Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Ph.D., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Former editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; Past President of Division 36 of APA, Psychology of Religion

"Up-to-date, comprehensive, informative, engaging, and easy to digest – this is the text of choice for undergraduate psychology of religion courses. Sisemore has done a wonderful job capturing the psychology of religion and spirituality in its richness and complexity. His approach is fair-minded and scholarly, yet always sensitive to the experience of religion and spirituality 'from the inside out.' A marvelous contribution to the field."
Kenneth I. Pargament, Ph.D., Bowling Green State University, Editor-in-Chief, APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, Volumes 1 and 2

"In The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Dr. Sisemore has crafted a remarkable volume that is simultaneously concise, thorough, and accessible. I heartily recommend this book for undergraduate psychology of religion courses, and expect it will be used in a number of post-graduate programs as well."
Mark R.McMinn, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychology, George Fox University; Former President of American Psychological Association’s Division 36, Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

"In The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out, Professor Tim Sisemore offers a much needed text that is comprehensive, engaging, readable, and timely. I will enthusiastically use this important book in my undergraduate psychology and religion classes and have been waiting for a book like this to be available for many years.  The psychology of religion and spirituality field has experienced an explosion of research and clinical applications in recent years and this terrific text will certainly be the go-to book on the topic for students everywhere."
Thomas Plante, Ph.D., ABPP, The Augustin Cardinal Bea SJ University Professor, Professor of Psychology, and Director of the Spirituality and Health Institute, Santa Clara University

"In The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out, Dr. Sisemore introduces readers to the range of fascinating research done by psychologists to understand the many ways religion impacts people. The writing is clear and presents a sympathetic picture both of believers and nonbelievers, helping readers to examine the research bearing on such questions as biological forces on belief, its changes through the lifespan, and its impact on society. The 'Digest and Discuss' questions invite readers to consider the material they have read, and lend themselves well to guide class discussion. This is a broad and well-rounded introduction to the field."
Michael Nielsen, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Psychology, Georgia Southern University; President, Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

"Dr. Sisemore’s book is one of the most interesting I have ever read!  He provides a clear survey of the field of psychology of religion and spirituality, addressing a variety of issues – including controversial ones. Dr. Sisemore's background in both psychology and theology gives him a unique perspective. Therefore, I highly recommend this great book for students in psychology and related disciplines, but also to researchers, colleagues, professionals, and all who have an interest in the topic."
Mojtaba Dalir, Ph.D.
, Licensed Psychologist; Lecturer at Islamic Azad University - Tehran Branch; Member Board of Directors, Iranian Association of Social Psychology

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The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality: From the Inside Out
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392 pages
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