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Posted: October 23rd, 2023

Define religion psychology

Religion psychology is the scientific study of how religious beliefs, practices, and experiences affect human behavior and cognition. Religion psychology explores various aspects of religion, such as its origins, development, functions, and diversity. Religion psychology also examines the psychological effects of religion on individuals and groups, such as their mental health, well-being, morality, identity, and social relationships.

Religion psychology is an interdisciplinary field that draws on theories and methods from various disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, philosophy, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. Religion psychology aims to understand religion from a naturalistic perspective, without assuming the truth or validity of any religious claims. Religion psychology does not seek to promote or criticize any religion, but rather to describe and explain it objectively.

Some of the main topics that religion psychology investigates are:

– The evolutionary origins and adaptive functions of religion
– The cognitive mechanisms and processes that underlie religious thinking and behavior
– The neural correlates and brain regions that are involved in religious experiences and emotions
– The developmental stages and factors that influence religious acquisition and transmission
– The personality traits and psychological factors that predispose people to be more or less religious
– The social and cultural influences that shape and maintain religious diversity and pluralism
– The positive and negative impacts of religion on mental health, well-being, coping, and resilience
– The moral and ethical implications of religion for individual and collective behavior
– The psychological similarities and differences among various religious traditions and groups
– The psychological challenges and opportunities of living in a secularized and globalized world

Religion psychology is a fascinating and relevant field that can help us better understand ourselves and others in a complex and diverse world. Religion psychology can also contribute to the dialogue and cooperation among different religious and non-religious perspectives, as well as to the promotion of peace and harmony in society.


– Hood Jr., R. W., Hill, P. C., & Spilka, B. (2020). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (5th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
– Norenzayan, A. (2013). Big gods: How religion transformed cooperation and conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
– Paloutzian, R. F., & Park, C. L. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
– Saroglou, V. (Ed.). (2014). Religion, personality, and social behavior. New York: Psychology Press.
– Schjoedt, U., & Bulbulia, J. (Eds.). (2019). The neural correlates of religious cognition. New York: Routledge.
– Van Elk, M., & Aleman, A. (Eds.). (2020). The cognitive science of religion: A critical introduction. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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