R. Palotzian: Psychology of Religion, Westmont College, 1996
Psychology of Religion Syllabus
Professor: Raymond F. Paloutzian
Fall 1996 Semester
Class Meets: Four class hours per week
Examination of theory and research on the
psychological and social psychological under standing of
religious belief and behavior. Topics include conversion,
intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation, religion and
social behavior, theories of religion, special groups and
phenomena, religion and mental health, religious development, and
Lectures and discussion will develop content area in a
step-by-step manner, and will make reference to and complement
reading material. Class material will also update reading
material, as well as elaborate the research and theoretical
implications and the practical implications of the content.
Depending on the class size, questions, comments, and discussion
will be encouraged. I would also like to use the class time to
communicate the practical difficulties and challenges, as well as
the excitement, of doing research in this area.
By the end of the course you will have an increased understanding
of the complexity, richness and psychological basis for religious
beliefs and behaviors, be better able to understand your own
religious life, explore the importance of religious phenomena for
the field of psychology, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of
a psychological approach to studying and interpreting religion,
and understand the interaction of personal and social dimensions
- Paloutzian, R.F. Invitation to the Psychology of
Religion, 2nd edition, Allyn and Bacon, 1996.
- Paloutzian, R.F. and Kirkpatrick, L.A. (Eds.) Religious
Influences on Personal and Societal Well-being. Journal of
Social Issues 51 (2), whole issue. [JSI]
- Paloutzian, R.F. and Santrock, J.W. The Psychology of Religion.
In J.W. Santrock, Psychology, 5th edition. Brown and
Benchmark/McGraw Hill, 1997. Chapter REL, 1-27.
- Fuller, A.R. Psychology and Religion: The View Both Ways, 3rd
edition. Rowman and Littlefield, 1994.
- Various Authors: Original journal publications, handouts
- Meadow and Kahoe: Psychology of Religion
- Brown: Advances in the Psychology of Religion
- Malony: Psychology of Religion: Personalities, Problems, Possibilities
- Wulff: Psychology of Religion; Classic and Contemporary (2nd Edition)
- Gorsuch: Psychology of Religion; Chapter in Annual Review of Psychology
- Belt-Hallahmi: Prolegomena to the Psychological Study of Religion
- Batson, Schoenrade, and Ventis: Religion and the Individual (2nd edition)
- Hood, Splika, Hunsberger and Gorsuch: Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach(2nd edition).
- The International Journal for the Psychology of
- Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
- Journal of Psychology and Theology
- Journal of Religion and Health
- Pastoral Psychology
- Review of Religious Research
- Journal of Psychology and Judism
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
- Journal of Religious Gerontology
Students should read assigned material before
class, and actively and regularly contribute to class discussion.
Grades will be based on exams, papers, and projects, with class
contributions used as a weighing factor at the professor's
discretion. All assignments and attendance are required. Make-up
exams are not given. Quizzes may be given at any time. Format
of exams and papers will be discussed in class.
The process of this course requires
academic integrity and respect for intellectual property. You
are responsible for your own intellectual work, both in producing
it and in protecting it from misuse. Evidence of unethical
conduct in this regard results in being dismissed from the course
with a failing course grade. Lesser consequences are at the
professor's discretion. All work done for this course must be
original and unique to this course.
Topic: Introduction and overview
Film: Jolo Serpent Handlers, discuss the issues
Reading: Paloutizian and Santrock Chapter REL.
Topic: Foundational issues; Definition and Scope of
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 1
Dimensions of Religious Commitment
Reading: Paloutizian, Chapter 1
Smart, Ninian, World Religions, Chapter 1
Topic: Is Religion Unique; Is Psychology of Religion Valid?
Reading: Paloutizian, Chapter 1
Deconchy, J.-P. (1991) Religious Belief Systems: Their
Ideological Representations and Practical Restraints. The
international Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 1(1), 5-21.
Topic: Historical Development of the Issues and Conflict Between
Psychology and Religion; The Either\Or View
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 2
Paloutzian and Kirkpatrick, Introduction: Religious Influences on
Personal and Societal Well-being. JSl 1-11
Topic: Can Psychology Explain Away Religion? The
Psychology Versus Religion Conflict. Philosophy of Science for
Psychology of Religion.
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 3
Topic: Research Methods
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 3
Topic: Theory; William James and Religious Experience
Reading: Fuller chapter on William James; William James
Topic: Sigmund Freud and Religion as an illusion
Reading: Fuller chapter on Freud
Freud: Future of an Illusion (selections)
Topic: Theory: B.F. Skinner and Religion as Superstitious Behavior
Reading: Skinner, Religion (handout from Science and Human Behavior)
Topic: Theory: C.G. Jung and God as Archetype
Reading: Fuller chapter on Jung
Topic: Theory: V. Frankl, Religion and the Will to Meaning
Reading: Fuller chapter on Frankl
Frankl, The Unconscious God (selections)
Topic: Religious Development in Children
Piaget's Approach; Kolberg's Approach, Research Consistencies.
Cognitive-Developmental Exercises on Religious Development
through College years
Reading: Paloutizian, Chapter 4
Bottoms, et al. In the Name of God: A Profile of Religion-Related
Child Abuse JSl, 85-111.
Topic: Religious Development and Doubt through
Adolescence and Aging
Developmental Models, Their Pros and Cons
Reading; Paloutzian Chapter 5
Fuller, Chapter on Allport
Donahue and Benson:. Religion and the Well-Being of Adolescents,
McFadden; Religion and Well-Being in Aging Persons in an Aging
Society, JSl 161-175
Topic: Religious Conversion, Persuasion and Control
Reading; Paloutzian, chapter 6
Malony, H. N. and Southard, S. (1992). Handbook of Religious
Conversion. Birmingham, AL:Religious Education Press. (From
Religious Traditions, Part 1: Chapters on Hinduism and Buddhism;
Islam; Judaism; Catholicism; Protestantism) (From Psychological
Perspectives, Part 3: Chapter on " Conversion, Cognition and
Topic: Religion and Experience
Readings: Paloutzian Chapter 7
Fuller on Maslow
Topic: Religious Orientation, Attitudes and Social
Authoritarianism and Fundamentalism
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 8
Donahue, M. (1985). Intrinsic-extrinsic religiousness: Review and
meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48,
Hunsberger: Religion and Prejudice: The Role of Religious
Fundamentalism, Quest and Right-Wing Authoritarianism. JSl 113-
Topic: Religion and Mental Health Disorder
Reading; Paloutzian, Chapter 9
Pargament and Park: Merely a defense? The Variety of Religious Means
and Ends. JSl 13-32
Ventis: The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Health.
Gorsuch: Religious Aspects of Substance Abuse and Recovery. JS;
Topic: Religion and Physical Health: Is there a
relationship between disease, faith and healing? Religious,
Psychological, and Medical Arguments and Issues.
Reading: Paloutzian, Chapter 9
Dull and Skokan: A cognitive Model of Religion's Influence on
Health. JSl 49-64.
Jenkins : Religion and HIV: Implications for research and
Intervention, JSl 131-144.
Topic: Evaluation and New Directions
Reading: Paloutizian, Chapter 10
Waller, et al. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Religious
Interests, Attitudes, and Values: A Study of Twins Reared Apart
and Together. Psychological Science, 1(2), 138-142.
Jones, S.L. (1994). A Constructive Relationship foe Religion with
Science and Profession Psychology: Perhaps the Boldest Model yet.
American Psychologist, 49(3), 184-199.
Paloutizian, R.F. and Ellison, C.W. (1982). Lonelines, Spiritual Well-Being and the Quality of Life. In Peplau and Perlman (Eds.) Loneliness: A Sourcebook of Current Theory, Research and Therapy, 224-237.
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