Life-span Development in Psychology of Religion Research

Keynote speakers and presenters in this pre-conference workshop include:

  • Ralph Hood, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA
  • Pierre-Yves Brandt, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Barbara Keller, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Heinz Streib, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • and researchers of the Bielefeld-Chattanooga research teams

How is individual religiosity changing over the life-span? Most people who are or have been involved with a religious tradition are implicitly or explicitly aware of changes that have occurred in their life. Almost everyone can tell their autobiographical story about religious changes, which sometimes follow the plot of growth and development, sometimes of conversion and finding a new home, sometimes of discontinuity, deconversion, disaffiliation or simply losing interest in religion.

How is this rich but diverse personal knowledge reflected in the psychology of religion? Of course in the early years of our discipline, conversion was on top of the agenda of psychologists of religion. However, centrifugal trajectories such as apostasy or deconversion as well as cognitive-structural developmental changes in religiosity drew the attention of psychologists of religion only decades later and are still rather at the margins of our field. And it needs to be taken more seriously in research that, for example, changes in the semantics such as the preference of self-identifying as “spiritual” or “more spiritual” may reflect developmental changes in a person’s life.

This workshop is based on the research experience of the Bielefeld-Chattanooga research teams in both qualitatively and quantitatively investigating changes in religiosity, specifying methods and research designs. See our completed studies on deconversion, on the semantics and psychology of “spirituality,” and on xenosophia ; and see also our current study on longitudinal changes in religious styles.

It is the intent of this preconference workshop to call attention to and promote the study of change and development of religiosity over the life span. With presentations by Ralph Hood, Pierre-Yves Brandt, Barbara Keller and Heinz Streib, the first day of the workshop has a focus on models and conceptual perspectives on religious development over the life-span. The second day is devoted to questions of how to operationalize a developmental perspective in your research and practically work with quantitative data and how to conduct and evaluate interviews. For more information, see the preliminary program.

Participants receive a copy of the new Manual for the Assessment of Religious Styles in Faith Development Interviews and plenty of literature about religious development and its operationalization in research.

If this pre-conference workshop inspires researchers in the psychology of religion to include a developmental perspective in their research and eventually results in opening and expanding our research network, we would regard it as a success.

IAPR-Pre-conference-Syllabus (2018-10-15)