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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality - Vol 9, Iss 3

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Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Official Journal of APA Division 36 (Psychology of Religion). Psychology of Religion and Spirituality publishes peer-reviewed, original articles related to the psychological aspects of religion and spirituality. The journal also publishes articles employing experimental and correlational methods, qualitative analyses, and critical reviews of the literature.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • The psychology of virtue: Integrating positive psychology and the psychology of religion.
    This article is an introduction to the special issue “The Psychology of Virtue: Integrating Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Religion.” The articles in this special issue underscore the centrality of mooring the positive psychological examination of virtue in religious and spiritual traditions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Humility, religion, and spirituality: A review of the literature.
    The study of positive psychology provides a strong opportunity for interdisciplinary work that integrates theorizing from theology and psychology of religion. The purpose of the current article is to provide a systematic review of empirical work on humility and religion/spirituality. We review definitions and key research questions that have driven work in this area, including work examining whether more religious people tend to be more humble, as well as work examining whether humility helps soften some of the ways that religion can lead to ideological conflict or entrenchment. We discuss key limitations from both a psychological and theological perspective before providing a research program to guide future work. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Rethinking self-transcendent positive emotions and religion: Insights from psychological and biblical research.
    At the heart of many religious and spiritual traditions is the aspiration to transcend the self to achieve a sense of connectedness with the world and/or with a Higher Power and to serve the greater good. Recent research suggests that the emergence of such self-transcendence can be facilitated by specific uplifting emotions termed self-transcendent positive emotions (STPEs); STPEs are short, positive responses to witnessing instances of beauty or good outside the self. The author reviews the defining characteristics of STPEs and the related current empirical research in psychology. Next, still building upon research in psychology, she examines how they are intertwined with spirituality and religion (beliefs and practices) and serve important functions when experienced in a religious context. The emerging biblical research on how positive emotions are constructed in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament is the studied, and how the religious context may modify the interpretation and phenomenological experience of positive emotions is discussed. Future avenues for research include the study of the specific emotion of joy and a better consideration of emotion’s embodiment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The virtue of patience, spirituality, and suffering: Integrating lessons from positive psychology, psychology of religion, and Christian theology.
    Based on insights from the psychology of religion, positive psychology, personality psychology, and theology, a theoretical model relating the virtue of patience to religion and spirituality is proposed. Patience is conceptualized as a hybrid personality construct related to effective emotion regulation strategies coupled with transcendent narrative identity. An initial empirical test of the model is conducted in a sample of ethnically diverse adolescents (N = 406) who are primarily Christian or nonreligious. Religiousness and spirituality are predictors of the virtue of patience, which then predicts use of the emotion regulation strategy of cognitive reappraisal; all these variables are then tested as direct and indirect predictors of regulated behavior and well-being. Overall, results support our theoretical model that spirituality and religion predict higher patience, which facilitates the employment of adaptive emotion regulation strategies that predict better life outcomes. Implications and future research questions stemming from the theoretical model are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Psychological and theological reflections on grace and its relevance for science and practice.
    The concept of grace has, in the psychology of religion, been largely neglected as a legitimate topic for empirical inquiry. We define grace here as a gift given unconditionally and voluntarily to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver, the giver being either human or divine. We explore the concept of grace within a variety of religious traditions, and then review the small research base on grace. In that the potential ramifications of grace are considerable, greater scientific attention to it seems warranted in both of its dimensions: Perceptions of divine grace received and grace enacted in one’s life. Our working hypothesis is that humanly experienced divine grace has the capacity to profoundly enhance and elevate human flourishing: thus grace fits well within the field of positive psychology, particularly as it intersects with the psychology of religion and spirituality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Religiosity and chastity among single young adults and married adults.
    The purpose of the present study was to present theological, philosophical, and psychological arguments for chastity as a virtue, and then test an empirical model linking religiosity to outcomes by way of values about chastity. Specifically, we tested a mediation model linking religiosity to outcomes via chastity values (beliefs about the importance of waiting until marriage to have sex and importance of sex within marriage as a bonding experience). This model was tested with a sample of single young adults (4,188) and a sample of married adults (2,531). Among single young adults, religiosity positively predicted abstinence beliefs, and abstinence beliefs negatively predicted unhappiness, risk taking, and risky sex. Among married adults, religiosity positively predicted both chastity values (i.e., importance of waiting until marriage to have sex and importance of sex within marriage as a bonding experience), while, in turn, both chastity values were positively linked to sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction, but only belief in marital sex as bonding was positively related to sexual satisfaction. Differences across religious affiliation were also discussed (comparing Catholics, Protestants, Latter-Day Saints, and those with no religious affiliation). We conclude that one way religious communities may promote chastity and positive psychosocial functioning is by teaching chastity values and providing structures to motivate and enable people to live consistently with them. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • On definitions and traditions.
    How psychologists define the concepts that they will investigate influences not just the conclusions that they draw but the very forms of experimentation that they use. Indeed, empirical analysis typically presupposes some (at least implicit) conceptual work. This conceptual work can and characteristically does draw on intellectual traditions of a philosophical or theological variety. These traditions provide not just rival definitions but also other insights that can be useful for psychological investigations. My remarks in this essay focus not just on definitional issues but also on some aspects of the philosophical or theological tradition that may be of interest to researchers in positive psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Virtue, positive psychology, and religion: Consideration of an overarching virtue and an underpinning mechanism.
    The virtues are a central focus of research at the intersection of positive psychology and the psychology of religion and spirituality. Humility, patience, and gratitude are addressed in the target articles of this special issue. Beyond examining each individual virtue, we argue here that the connections among virtues also warrant empirical attention. Specifically, we explain the unity of the virtues thesis, which suggests that individual virtues may be a part of a larger overarching construct, which we propose may be practical wisdom, or simply general virtuousness. Similarly, we propose that a common mechanism, such as automatic self-regulation, may facilitate these virtuous expressions. Thus, despite differences in content and expression, most virtues may have a common overarching construct and undergirding mechanism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Grace and virtue: Theological and psychological dispositions and practices.
    Within this issue of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Schnitker, Houltberg, Dyrness, and Redmond (2017) define virtue as a composite of characteristic adaptations and narrative identity for their study of patience and Emmons, Hill, Barrett, and Kapic (2017) identify the significance of grace for understanding virtue. Both draw upon theological resources, and this commentary article examines their theological assumptions and suggests additional theological resources that may extend their research and strengthen the interdisciplinary value of their approaches. In particular, grace and virtue historically share a dependence upon the embodied dispositions of habitus that could benefit from further contemporary study and may illuminate new insights into mutually supportive development of virtue and embodiment of grace. Grace and virtue have centuries-old, complex scholarly history with numerous well-reasoned contributions, some of which may better cohere with contemporary psychological findings than those views more recently popularized within the American Protestant traditions upon which the authors draw. Not only does a Roman Catholic understanding of grace undergird the faith tradition of the majority of the world’s Christians but its nuanced view of grace’s structuring of a person’s habitus directly connects to a common understanding of virtue as disposition. An Eastern Orthodox process of spiritual formation, due to Irenaeus, has dispositional, mediating, and telic dimensions similar to virtue that may correlate with Schnitker et al.’s personality model of virtue, which thus suggests a possible psychological model of personality development that might support both virtue development and spiritual formation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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