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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: The authors of this book demonstrate how a person's faith affects his/her life, both personally and in a larger social network. The previous edition was published in 2003.
Purpose: According to the authors, "our aim remains the same in the fourth edition as in the first three: to present a comprehensive evaluation of the psychology of religion from an empirical perspective.
Audience: The book is "designed for optimal use in advanced undergraduate and graduate-level courses," and features thought-provoking quotations and examples. Ralph Hood is professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee and cofounder of The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. Peter C. Hill is professor of psychology at Biola University's Rosemead School of Psychology and editor of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. Bernard Spilka is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Denver and has been vice president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and president of the Colorado Psychological Association and the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association.
Features: A discussion of the function of religion and the foundation of empirical study of religious experience begins the book. The authors look at the effects of religion throughout the lifespan including childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, and the aging and dying. They also explore issues such as differentiating between religion and spirituality, mysticism, morality and prejudice, and health. Special features include tables and research boxes that discuss and summarize relevant research. The interesting chapter on relationships between individuals and religious groups discusses church-sect theory, organizational dynamics, and cults. A fascinating chapter on religion, morality, and prejudice helps readers understand moral behavior, discussing honesty, substance abuse, sexual behavior, and criminal behavior. Topics are supported by the latest research findings.
Assessment: This is a comprehensive look at the psychology of religion in the spirit of William James, a founder in the field. The authors are distinguished experts who have covered a wide range of topics in 636 pages. The book integrates theories with research findings and does a nice job of covering religious experience throughout the lifespan and focusing on the differences between spirituality and religion. The authors have reduced the number of chapters in this edition, streamlining the book while covering the same ground and adding new research findings.