26. The Psychology of Religion and Religious Experience

  1. Paul R. Martin2,
  2. Fanny M. Cheung BA PhD3,
  3. Michael C. Knowles MCom (Qld), PhD (Edin)4,
  4. Michael Kyrios5,
  5. J. Bruce Overmier6 and
  6. José M. Prieto7
  1. David Fontana

Published Online: 20 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444395150.ch26

IAAP Handbook of Applied Psychology

IAAP Handbook of Applied Psychology

How to Cite

Fontana, D. (2011) The Psychology of Religion and Religious Experience, in IAAP Handbook of Applied Psychology (eds P. R. Martin, F. M. Cheung, M. C. Knowles, M. Kyrios, J. B. Overmier and J. M. Prieto), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444395150.ch26

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

  2. 3

    Chinese University of Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

  4. 5

    Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

  5. 6

    University of Minnesota, USA

  6. 7

    Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

Author Information

  1. Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2011
  2. Published Print: 1 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405193313

Online ISBN: 9781444395150



  • psychology of religion and religious experience - reasons, for relative neglect in 20th century of psychology of religion, open to debate;
  • relative neglect of religion - impoverishing psychology;
  • human motivation, morals, values, self-concepts - legal structures, relationships, philosophical systems, education, altruistic behaviors, influenced by religious theory and practice;
  • religion as social phenomenon - acceptance of role of first-hand accounts, importance attached by psychologists of religion to attitude-based research;
  • Silberman, making clear in publications - that religious meaning systems, have a marked ability to integrate social groups;
  • religion and individual psychology - by Koenig, McCullough, and Larsen in their Handbook of Religion and Health (2001), that regular churchgoing and religious belief convey significant health benefits;
  • religion as inner experience - can psychology probe deeply into subjective experience, in determining why religion can be life-enhancing;
  • relationship between spiritual experiences and changes - in observable behavior, ways of assessing comparative psychological experiences and their intellectual and emotional impact;
  • assessing individual differences in religious orientation - I–E (Intrinsic–Extrinsic) religious orientation scale, by Gordon, for identifying dimensions relevant to individual's religiosity;
  • areas of psychology of religion - that merit more extensive future attention


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Historical Background

  • The Current Position

  • Religion a s Social Phenomenon

  • Religion and Individual Psychology

  • Religion a s Inner Experience

  • Mystical Experience

  • Assessing Individual Differences in Religious Orientation

  • What of the Future?

  • References