Psychology of Religion

  • Graham Richards
Part of the Library of the History of Psychological Theories book series (LHPT)


Psychology’s most explicitly direct involvement with religion has obviously been the sub-discipline Psychology of Religion. While enjoying an early flourishing in North America and mainland Europe, this went into a serious decline during the 1920s and by 1930 appeared to have run into the ground in anglophone Psychology, despite occasional fitful revivals for the rest of the century. Although C. G. Jung’s explicit endorsement of the psychological centrality of religion to human well-being had widespread cultural impact from the mid-1930s onwards, this bore little direct relationship to the older Psychology of Religion genre (however profoundly William James’s views influenced Jung personally). After 1950 psychologists began paying increasing attention to the social psychological and personality aspects of religious belief. Michael Argyle and his associate B. Beit-Hallami were major figures in sustaining this concern. This too only partially resembled older Psychology of Religion. Although the possibility of a revival was being raised in the late 1970s (e.g. G. Scobie, 1977, who also acknowledged its change in character), only in the 1990s did anglophone Psychology of Religion begin to enjoy more than a modest revival—it is, however, debateable how far this is a genuine revival or a distinct but homonymous development.


Religious Belief Religious Experience Methodological Pluralism Religious Philosophy Religious Consciousness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graham Richards BooksTunbridge WellsUnited Kingdom

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