Fall semester, 2001
Course time: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 - 10 a.m.
(Psychology 180G-01/Religion 241G-01)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
(Psychology 180G-02/Religion 241G-02)
Course room: James Center room 143
Instructor: Adam Cohen
Office phone: (717) 245-1562
Office hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10-11 a.m. and by appointment.
This may be a very different course from what you expect. An informal survey by me of other people’s psychology of religion courses shows a few crucial differences. First, such courses are often offered in religion departments, not psychology departments. Second, the courses are often called “Psychology of religion”, not “Psychology and religion”. These two factors, put together, to me reflect that such courses are usually focused on such questions as “What’s wrong with those crazy religious people?” and “What is the psychoanalytic basis of religion?” People in these courses read Freud and Jung and call it a day.
We will engage such questions after a fashion. But this course is called “Psychology and religion” because it is aimed at creating a constructive, respectful dialogue between psychology and religion, a two-way street. We will as much as possible attempt not only to discuss what psychology can offer as far as understanding religion, but what religion can offer psychology; for example, why religious people are a little healthier and happier than nonreligious people.
Thus, at the conclusion of this course, we should have a sense of what important figures in the social sciences, such as Freud, James, and Durkheim, have said about religion; have a sense of the kinds of questions that religion raises for psychologists; an increased appreciation of different religious traditions; and a good sense of how psychologists interested in religion can proceed.
Most r in a bulkpack from the bookstore. In rare cases a paper may be put on reserve in the library. I am trying to assign a mix of classic or general readings as well as primary research articles in psychology. You should buy a copy of William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience and a copy of The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal; both are available at the bookstore.
We will have 3 exams over the course of the semester. Each exam will be worth 15% of the grade. These will most likely be short essay exams.
Over the course of the semester, there are three small assignments related to particular topics. These will be short (1-2 page) papers and will together be worth 15% of the final grade. As these will be integral to class discussion, these will not be accepted late.
Class participation along with attendance will be worth 10% of the grade. Class participation is not necessarily the same thing as talking. It is making thoughtful comments, asking questions, listening actively, respecting the other seminar participants and instructor, etc. There is bound to be a variety of views about religion represented in the class. No doubt some class participants will be deeply religious and others skeptical. It is going to be vital to cultivate an atmosphere of respect for both views.
A short final paper (around 5-7 pages) will be due at the time the final is scheduled for. In this paper, you will have the opportunity to go into depth a little more into a topic related to psychology and religion of special interest to you. You will read 2 or 3 primary research articles in psychology, summarize them in your paper, and also – important – give your well thought-out opinion about the topic and the articles. We will discuss these papers together at the end of the course both to let other participants know what we have found and also to help with the writing of these papers. This paper will be worth 30% of the course grade. I strongly suggest using the Writing Center (x1620) for this paper. Many people think the Writing Center is a place for “bad” writers to get help but I think that “good” writers benefit even more from their services. Some time around the end of October, John Stachacz, the science librarian, will come to class and give a presentation on using library resources for this paper.
Don’t even think about plagiarizing or cheating on exams or papers. Broadly speaking, plagiarism, to my mind, is taking credit for someone else’s work. A precise definition is in the student handbook. If I have reason to suspect cheating of any kind I will refer the matter to the Judicial System Administrator.
If there is a particular condition of which I should be aware (e.g., visual or auditory impairment, learning disability, accessibility), let me know about it immediately so that arrangements can be made to accommodate your needs. If you haven’t submitted documentation to the Office of Counseling and Disability Services, call x1485.
I am a Dickinson alumnus (’94) and I majored in psychology and Judaic Studies. My Ph.D. (from the University of Pennsylvania) is in social psychology. For my dissertation, I studied the importance of mental states (such as faith and immoral thoughts) in different religions. Last year, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania where I worked on religion and moral judgment, religiosity, health and happiness, forgiveness, and the Holocaust.
What is religion? What is psychology?
Hood, R.W., Jr., Spilka, B., Hunsberger, B. & Gorsuch, R. (1996). The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach, Second Edition (pp. 1-12). New York: Guilford.
Gleitman, H., Fridlund, A.J. & Reisberg, D. (1999). Psychology, Fifth Edition (pp. 1-11). New York: Norton.
James, W. (1902/1997). The Varieties of Religious Experience (pp. 39-43). New York: Touchstone.
Psychology versus religion?
Freud, S. (1927/1961). The Future of an Illusion (trans. J. Strachey). (pp. xxiii, 38-42). New York: Norton.
Shermer, M. (1997). Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (pp. 44-61). New York: MJF Books.
James, W. (1902/1997). The Varieties of Religious Experience (pp. 27-30). New York: Touchstone.
Two kinds of religions/faiths.
Morris, P. (1996). Community beyond tradition. In P. Heelas, S. Lash & P. Morris (Eds.), Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity (pp. 238-245). Cambridge: Blackwell.
Denny, F.M. (1996). The structures of Muslim life. In H.B. Earhart (Ed.), Religious Traditions of the World: a Journey Through Africa, Mesoamerica, North America, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, China, and Japan (pp. 612-613). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Neusner, J. (1993). Judaism. In A. Sharma (Ed.), Our Religions (pp. 294-297; 306-308). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Attend a religious service of a type you have never been to before. Write about
your reactions in 1-2 pages.
Religious belief and world-view
Berger, P.L. (1967/1990). The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (pp. 3-28). New York: Anchor Books.
King, L. (2001). The hard road to the good life: The happy, mature person. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41(1), 54-56; 58-61; 64-68.
Solomon, S., Greenberg, J. & Pyszczynski, T. (2000). Pride and prejudice: Fear of death and social behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(6), 200-204.
Scotton, B.W. (1998). Treating Buddhist patients. In H.G. Koenig (Ed.), Handbook of Religion and Mental Health (pp. 263-270). San Diego: Academic Press.
Come to class prepared to write a short essay about the last important event in your life. W will analyze people’s essays together (essays will be anonymous).
Sabini, J. & Silver, M. (1998). Emotion, Character and Responsibility (pp. 9-31). New York: Oxford University Press.
Shweder, R, Much, N.C., Mahapatra, M. & Park, L. (1997). The “big three” of morality (autonomy, community, divinity) and the “big three” explanations of suffering. In A.M. Brandt & P. Rozin (Eds.), Morality and Health (pp. 130-140). New York: Routledge.
Arendt, H. (1963/1992). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (pp. 21-55; 206-219; 277-279).
James, W. (1902/1997). The Varieties of Religious Experience (pp. 180-210). New York: Touchstone.
Religion and food
Leviticus chapter 11.
Kass, L.R. (1994). Why the dietary laws? Commentary, pp. 45-46.
Rozin, P. (1990). Social and moral aspects of food and eating. In I. Rock (Ed.), The Legacy of Solomon Asch: Essays in Cognition and Social Psychology (pp. 97-110).
Women in religion
AuBuchon, P.G. & Calhoun, K.S. (1985). Menstrual cycle symptomatology: The role of social expectancy and experimental demand characteristics. Psychosomatic Medicine, 47(1), 35-45.
Siegel, S.J. (1986). The effect of culture on how women experience menstruation: Jewish women and mikvah. Women & Health, 10(4), 63-74.
Greenberg, A.S. & Bailey, J.M. (1993). Do biological explanations of homosexuality have moral, legal or policy implications? Journal of Sex Research, 30(3), 245-251.
Haldeman, D.C. (1994). The practice and ethics of sexual orientation conversion therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62(2), 221-227.
Wiesenthal, S. (1997). The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York: Schocken Books. (pp. 3-98).
Write a letter (you don’t have to send it) to a person you have not forgiven for some offense.
Religiosity, health and happiness
Myers, D.G. (1992). The Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Avon Books. (pp. 177-204). (on reserve at the library.)
Seybold, K.S. & Hill, P.C. (2001). The role of religion and spirituality in mental and physical health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(1), 21-24.
Harris, W.S., Gowda, M., Kolb, J.W., Strychacz, C.P., Vacek, J.L., Jones, P.G., Forker, A., O’Keefe, J.H. & McCallister, B.D. (1999). A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit. Archives of Internal Medicine, 159, 2273-2278.
Psych 180-G01 course schedule (subject to change)
Sep 3 Introduction to course, getting acquainted.
Sep 5 What is religion? What is psychology?
Sep 7 What is religion? What is psychology? (continued)
Sep 10 What is religion? What is psychology? (continued)
Sep 12 Psychology versus religion?
Sep 14 Psychology versus religion? (continued). Note: September 14th is the last Day to Add/Drop or Change to/from Pass/Fail.
Sep 17 Psychology versus religion? (continued).
Sep 19 No class: Second day of Rosh HaShanah.
Sep 21 Two kinds of religions/faiths. Assignment one.
Sep 24 Two kinds of religions/faiths (continued).
Sep 26 Two kinds of religions/faiths (continued).
Sep 28 Exam One. At ATS at 9:00 there is a WITF live broadcast on Evolution
and Creationism. Attendance is required.
Oct 1 Religious belief and world-view.
Oct 3 Religious belief and world-view (continued).
Oct 5 Religious belief and world-view (continued).
Oct 8 Evil. Assignment two.
Oct 10 Evil (continued).
Oct 12 Evil (continued).
Oct 15 Conversion.
Oct 17 Conversion (continued).
Oct 19 Conversion (continued). Note: Mid-term pause from 5 pm Friday,
October 19 thru 8 am, Wednesday, October 24.
Oct 24 Food. Combined class with Dr. Adrienne Su, English dept, Denny 317
Oct 26 Food. Combined class with Dr. Adrienne Su, English dept, Denny 317
Oct 29 Food.
Oct 31 Exam Two.
Nov 2 Women and religion.
Nov 5 Women and religion (continued).
Nov 7 Women and religion (continued).
Nov 9 Homosexuality. Note: November 9th is the last day to
withdraw from a course with a "W" grade.
Nov 12 Homosexuality (continued).
Nov 14 Homosexuality (continued).
Nov 16 Forgiveness. Assignment three.
Nov 19 Forgiveness (continued). Note: Thanksgiving Vacation 5 pm, Tuesday,
November 20 thru 8 am, Monday, November 26th.
Nov 26 Forgiveness (continued).
Nov 28 Religiosity, health and happiness.
Nov 30 Religiosity, health and happiness (continued).
Dec 3 Religiosity, health and happiness (continued).
Dec 5 Exam Three.
Dec 7 Wrap-up, discussion of final papers.
Dec 10 Wrap-up, discussion of final papers (continued).
Dec 12 Wrap-up, discussion of final papers (continued). Note: Classes end Dec 12th.
Final paper due at scheduled time for final exam (Dec 15th).
Psych 180-G02 course schedule (subject to change)
Sep 4 Introduction to course, getting acquainted; What is religion? What is
Sep 6 What is religion? What is psychology? (continued)
Sep 11 Psychology versus religion?
Sep 13 Psychology versus religion? (continued). Note: September 14th is the last
Day to Add/Drop or Change to/from Pass/Fail.
Sep 18 No class: Rosh HaShanah
Sep 20 Two kinds of religions/faiths. Assignment one.
Sep 25 Two kinds of religions/faiths (continued).
Sep 27 No class: Yom Kipper. September 28th at ATS at 9:00 there is a WITF live
broadcast on Evolution and Creationism. Attendance is required.
Oct 2 Exam One.
Oct 4 Religious belief and world-view.
Oct 9 Religious belief and world-view (continued).
Oct 11 Evil. Assignment two.
Oct 16 Evil (continued).
Oct 18 Conversion. Note: Mid-term pause from 5 pm Friday, October 19 thru
8 am, Wednesday, October 24.
Oct 25 Conversion (continued).
Oct 30 Food. Combined class with Dr. Adrienne Su, English dept, Denny 317
Nov 1 Food (continued).
Nov 6 Exam Two.
Nov 8 Women and religion. Note: November 9th is the last day to withdraw from
a course with a "W" grade.
Nov 13 Women and religion (continued).
Nov 15 Homosexuality.
Nov 20 Homosexuality (continued). Thanksgiving Vacation 5 pm, Tuesday,
November 20 thru 8 am, Monday, November 26th.
Nov 27 Forgiveness. Assignment three.
Nov 29 Forgiveness (continued).
Dec 4 Religiosity, health and happiness.
Dec 6 Exam Three
Dec 11 Wrap-up, discussion of final papers. Note: Classes end Dec 12th.
Final paper due at scheduled time for final exam (Dec 19th).