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“So Firm A Foundation”: What The Comparative Study Of Religion Offers Positive Psychology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter undertakes Haidt's recommendation to positive psychology researchers to look to other cultures and eras for guidance in understanding some of Peterson and Seligman's "ubiquitous, if not universal, virtues". It proposes that religion is a fertile ground for study by positive psychologists, and may be one area where "common denominators" or mechanisms of producing character strengths and virtues may be unearthed through more systematic study. To demonstrate this, the chapter poses hypothetical relationships between Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and the character strengths of transcendence and justice, directly linking theological and cultural beliefs to the development of transcendence and justice. The chapter maintains that religion and spirituality do not occur in a social vacuum but rather are influenced within a broader social context. Furthermore, religion and spirituality are shown to be important predictors of physical and mental health as well as a provider of social capital.

Keywords:Christianity; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; positive psychology; religion; spirituality



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