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Whither the Roots? Achieving Conceptual Depth in Psychology of Religion

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Should psychology of religion undergo a disciplinary renaissance and, if so, what might it look like? In this paper we explore that question by discussing the benefits of a better grounding of the field within mid-level theories from general psychology that provide it with greater conceptual depth. Such discussion will focus on three already existing and variously productive lines of research as case studies: attribution processes, attachment styles, and religious coping. These case studies represent lines of research at three developmental stages: 1) infancy, with little visible return but with signs of promise (attribution), 2) adolescence, with dividends already yielded but also with promise not yet fully realized (attachment), and 3) maturity, where a fruitful harvest has already been experienced but yet without decline (coping). Regardless of developmental position, it is argued that research in psychology of religion will be enhanced to the extent that it achieves conceptual depth by being framed in terms of mid-level theories.

Affiliations: 1: Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University La Mirada, California, USA;, Email:; 2: Psychology and Religion Research Group, Faculty of Divinity University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK;, Email:


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