APA Symposium: Defining Faith Constructs: A Multilevel Integrative Paradigm for Psychology of Religion/Spirituality

April 14, 2020

 

2019 APA Annual Convention

1. Type of program: 2. Title of program:

First index term

3. Brief Content Description:

4. Division to submit this proposal:

5. Length of time requested on program:

6. Chair(s) of the session:

(1) Kevin A Harris, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status:

7. Participants:

Symposium

Defining Faith Constructs: A Multilevel Integrative Paradigm for Psychology of Religion/Spirituality

58 Religion and Spirituality

Empirical research and theory on operational definitions of religiosity, religiousness, spirituality, faith, sacred, and transcendence, for the purpose of outlining a multilevel integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality

36 - Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

1 hr. 50 min.

(Submitter)

Psychology, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University, MB3114, Odessa, TX 79762

Early Career Professional
drkevinaharris@gmail.com
432-552-2346 (office), 765-749-9774 (cell)
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX APA Member

Page 1 of 10

Proposal ID: sym19080

(1) Kevin A Harris, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status: Title of presentation:

Electronic Archiving: Coauthor 1:

(2) Kevin A Harris, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status: Title of presentation:

Electronic Archiving: Coauthor 1:

Coauthor 2: Coauthor 3: Coauthor 4: Coauthor 5:

Psychology, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University, MB3114, Odessa, TX 79762

Early Career Professional drkevinaharris@gmail.com

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX APA Member

Defining Religiousness, Spirituality, Faith, and the Sacred: 17 Underlying Constructs

Yes

Evelena McCutcheon, BA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Psychology, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University, MB3114, Odessa, TX 79762

Early Career Professional drkevinaharris@gmail.com

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX APA Member

Faith Constructs: A Four-Level Integrative Paradigm for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

Yes

Kynnie Campbell, BA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Ashley Moreland, AA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Belinda Heredia, BA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Andrea Despain, AA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Yaritza Baltier, AA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

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Coauthor 6: Jacqueline A Cummings, AA, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX

Coauthor 7: Christine E Agaibi, MA, The University of Akron, Akron, OH

(3) Steven E Handwerker, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company:

Membership status: Title of presentation:

Electronic Archiving: Coauthor :

(4) Glen Milstein, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status: Title of presentation: Electronic Archiving: Coauthor :

International Association for the Advancement of Human Welfare, Inc., 103 South Beach Rd., South Burlington, VT 05403

Mid-Career Professional peacewk@peacewk.org

International Association for the Advancement of Human Welfare, Inc., South Burlington, VT

APA Member

Building Bridges to Peace and Harmony Locally and Globally Through Interfaith Dialogue: Definitions

Yes

Psychology, City College of New York, NAC Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031

Mid-Career Professional gmilstein@ccny.cuny.edu

City College of New York, New York, NY
APA Member
Distinctions of Religion and Spirituality in the Context of Mental Health Care Yes

Page 3 of 10

(5) Kutter Callaway, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status: Title of presentation:

Electronic Archiving: Coauthor 1: Coauthor 2:

School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, 135 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena, CA 91182

Graduate Student kuttercallaway@fuller.edu

Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA APAGS Member

Not All Transcendence is Created Equal: A Multidimensional Conceptualization of Transcendence

Yes
Sarah Schnitker, PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA Madison K Gilbertson, MA, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA

(6) Raymond F Paloutzian, PhD

Mailing address: Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status: Title of presentation: Electronic Archiving: Coauthor :

8. Discussant(s):

Psychology, Westmont College, 955 La Paz Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108 Advanced-Career Professional
paloutz@westmont.edu

Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA
APA Fellow
PoR/S: Please God, End This, i.e., Not Our Name Again Yes

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(1) Raymond F Paloutzian, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status:

(2) Kevin A Harris, PhD

Mailing address:

Professional stage: E-mail address: Phone numbers: Institution/company: Membership status:

Psychology, Westmont College, 955 La Paz Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Advanced-Career Professional paloutz@westmont.edu

Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA APA Fellow

Psychology, The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, 4901 E. University, MB3114, Odessa, TX 79762

Early Career Professional drkevinaharris@gmail.com

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, TX APA Member

9. Accommodation request: None

10. Submit for CE:

Received:

True

Increase knowledge and awareness of the operational definitions and construct validity of the faith constructs of religiosity, religiousness, spirituality, faith, the sacred, and transcendence

Promote dialogue about a proposed multilevel integrative paradigm in the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality

12/1/2017 5:05:04 PM

Page 5 of 10

Defining Faith Constructs: A Multilevel Integrative Paradigm for Psychology of Religion/Spirituality

Faith constructs is a term that refers to concepts like religiosity, religiousness, spirituality, faith, sacred, and transcendence. They are important to a great many people, and although they have been extensively researched over the past 50 years and the past two decades in particular, faith constructs continue to have nearly as many operational definitions as there are researchers who write about them and in spite of hundreds of measures of these constructs, operational definitions of them remain elusive. Further, there have been calls for a multilevel integrative paradigm to serve as a unified theory for the field of the psychology of religion. This symposium presents current empirical research and theoretical conceptualization on how the terms religiosity, religiousness, spirituality, faith, sacred, and transcendence are defined, for the purpose of arriving at operational definitions of these terms, and towards outlining a multilevel integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality. A proposed multilevel integrative paradigm is presented for symposium attendees.

(1) Defining Religiousness, Spirituality, Faith, and the Sacred: 17 Underlying Constructs

Religiousness, spirituality, faith, and the sacred are collectively referred to as faith constructs. The Aitheros Research Association has spent the past decade examining 40 years of these constructs, using a method of content analysis called definitional content analysis, based on phenomenological methodology, grounded theory, and consensual qualitative research. Independent teams of researchers examined definitions of these terms from 1974 to 2016 in thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles, hundreds of books and book chapters, and samples of APA member psychologists in clinical practice, clients in secular counseling, and college students, as well as nearly a dozen literature reviews specifically focusing on defining faith constructs. Through an iterative process of independent review followed by collective arguing to consensus, our teams discovered that while four faith constructs are commonly used, they are most often defined in terms of combinations of 17 different constructs. More than 20% of definitions of religiousness include references to the constructs of institution/organization/culture, practices, beliefs, personal experience, and divine/transcendence. Personal experience includes references to cognition, emotions/negative valence, and motivation/positive valence. At least 20% of spirituality definitions refer to the constructs of divine/transcendence, personal experience, relationship, beliefs, meaning/purpose, religiousness, and a journey. Definitions of the term faith contain references to beliefs, divine/transcendence, and personal experience, while definitions of the term sacred refer to the constructs of divine/transcendence, personal experience, meaning/purpose, and the holy. Other, less common constructs in definitions of religiousness, spirituality, faith, and the sacred include unknown, trust, identity, and development, as well as references to the four faith constructs themselves. All four faith constructs appear to be defined around a common faith core of six terms: beliefs, practices, human experience, meaning/purpose, relationship, and divine/transcendence. These 17 constructs may form the basis of a multilevel integrative paradigm for the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality.

(2) Faith Constructs: A Four-Level Integrative Paradigm for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality

Page 6 of 10

 

The field of the psychology of religion and spirituality has grown exponentially over the past two decades. Unlike older fields within psychology, the psychology of religion and spirituality lacks a multilevel integrative paradigm to unify the field. Researchers like Crystal Park, Ken Pargament, Annette Mahoney, Julie Exline, Ed Shafranske, Ray Paloutzian, Doug Oman, and Ralph Piedmont have called for an integrative paradigm to unify the field and move forward research and clinical practice. We as a field may be close to developing an integrative paradigm. Decades of qualitative content analysis research have suggested that the faith constructs of religiousness, spirituality, faith, and the sacred are defined in terms of 17 related constructs: beliefs, development, divine/transcendence, faith, holy, identity, institution/organization/culture, journey, meaning/purpose, personal experience (including cognition, emotions/negative valence, and motivation/positive valence), practices, relationship, religiousness, the sacred, spirituality, trust, and the unknown. Religiousness, spirituality, faith, and the sacred seem to be defined around a common faith core of six terms: beliefs, divine/transcendence, human experience, meaning/purpose, practices, and relationship. Consequently, we propose a four-level integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality. Level 4 contains the 17 aforementioned constructs, Level 3 contains the 6 common faith core constructs, Level 2 contains the 4 faith constructs, and Level 1 contains one construct the unifying construct for the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality, which we have termed "r" (in reference to the "g" that appears in many intelligence theories). To validate this theory (and determine the nature of "r"), the Aitheros Research Association is currently conducting three studies: a survey of the membership of Division 36, a Delphi study with Division 36 leaders, and an exploratory factor analysis of the 17 Level 4 constructs. The results will hopefully support a four-level integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality.

(3) Building Bridges to Peace and Harmony Locally and Globally Through Interfaith Dialogue: Definitions

In 40 years of practice as a Peace Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Minister, I have evolved two paradigms for addressing and healing schisms between the faiths on a local and global level that may be informative for defining religiousness, spirituality, and faith. One paradigm involves the processes of valuing dialog, building commitment to counsel, and creating protocols for engaging common denominators between the faiths. The other paradigm involves creating humanitarian initiatives as needed, involving 5 pillars of concern: infrastructure needs, promoting human rights, public and mental health, sustainable culture, and economic development. The utilization of humanistic and peace psychology principles have enabled viable solutions to the tensions and perceived differences between the faiths. Ralph Whites peace psychology notion of realistic empathy and humanistic principles will be discussed in relation to these paradigms principles such as transcendental empathy, honoring the innate spirit of each person, and using the resources within to express and evolve that spirit. These research practices and results have yielded an evolving way of perceiving and defining religiousness, spirituality and faith. The experiences shared will serve as jumping off points for audience questions and discussion, and for a multilevel integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality.

(4) Distinctions of Religion and Spirituality in the Context of Mental Health Care

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With roots in early development, religion can be a powerful source of hope, affirmation, and community generativity, as well as a source of rejection, denigration, and trauma. For seven years we have collaborated with the Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) on a Prevention Science program of Clergy Outreach & Professional Engagement (COPE). The goal was when salient to reconnect consumers to their congregations, both to engage social support and to contribute to community. MHCD implemented an outreach program to communicate with religious communities and conducted inreach training for clinicians on including religion and spirituality in client assessment and treatment planning. This program was aligned with MHCDs transition from a focus on illness management to client-centered well-being. In qualitative and quantitative COPE surveys, consumers described a spiritual need to be valued as individuals before they would participate again in their religions. In practice, this spiritual need for individual value demonstrates a conceptual, procedural, and professional border between spirituality and religion. Spiritual needs reflected persons core, numinous sense of intrinsic worth described by Erikson as founded in very early development. Religion develops in later stages of life and is practiced in a community of specific beliefs, rituals, and regular members. From this lived example, spirituality can be assessed and engaged by clinicians as part of clinical care to facilitate foundational hope. Clinicians can then assess the roles of religion and if salient help consumers to bridge the border to access the resources of their congregations, facilitated by clergy. This continuity of care exemplifies how spirituality is clinically relevant and may be a necessary prelude to adult functioning within religion reconnection, which is the bailiwick of clergy and congregations. This understanding of religion and spirituality may be useful to a multilevel integrative paradigm for the psychology of religion and spirituality.

(5) Not All Transcendence is Created Equal: A Multidimensional Conceptualization of Transcendence

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In the past few decades alone, psychologists from a variety of sub-disciplines have generated numerous psychometric measures designed to capture something of the spiritual, religious, and/or transcendent structures of human cognition and behavior. Much of the empirical work employing these and other measures focuses on drawing distinctions between spirituality and religion, intrinsic and extrinsic forms of religion, or normative and transcendental religious motivations. At the same time, researchers often identify transcendence as the unifying element that brings together these distinct but overlapping constructs. Yet, the concept itself still lacks precision. It is not only theoretically vague and poorly defined within the literature, but is often deployed inconsistently. As a consequence, recent studies have suggested that a more refined conceptualization of transcendence is needed in order to discriminate between its multiple dimensions, each of which not only has a distinct set of objects in view, but also affects other outcome variables (like subjective well being) in different ways and to different degrees. In response to these calls for greater conceptual and terminological sophistication, this presentation outlines a more robust theoretical framework by drawing upon the resources of theology and philosophy traditions of inquiry that have long and developed histories of theoretical insights regarding transcendence. In doing so, the aim is to demonstrate the benefits of a multi- dimensional conceptualization of transcendence, which includes at least three clearly defined but inter-related domains (i.e. Ontological, Phenomenological, and Immanent). It is argued that greater theoretical precision regarding the concept of transcendence will have empirical utility for psychologists, most notably in the generation of testable hypotheses concerning the relationship between transcendence and other psychometric measures such as the cultivation of virtue. Transcendence may be a key part of a multilevel integrative paradigm in the psychology of religion and spirituality.

(6) PoR/S: Please God, End This, i.e., Not Our Name Again

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This talk is about the core of psychology of religion. It promotes intellectual perspectives to expand its contribution to all psychology, and beyond. A basic issue is how to conceptualize the field and conduct research in an increasingly international psychology of religion world. I advocate increasing clarity about the nature of questions answerable by psychological science, what a valid scientific explanation of religiousness (not religion is, and the intellectual and methodological boundaries of this science matters rooted in what constitutes evidence, and why knowledge is public with no privileged positions. The term religion served our field well. But religion is a cultural concept, not a psychological term that connotes mental processes, overt behavior, or social relationships. Almost none of our scholarship focuses on religion (or faith or the sacred which demonstrates why we need more focused terms to state what study. I suggest that we talk about the psychology of religiousness. It is a term that more closely suggests individual mental and behavioral processes. It also (almost) suggests behaviors. And it will foster better maturing of our field (although, I am first to claim amazement at the distance this field has come in my 46-year professional life more than my wildest imagination). I also recommend No, I insist! that we stop putting the the in front of the sacred. A simple change like this strengthens our psychological identity and helps us contribute our knowledge to interdisciplinary research on religiousness via use of a multilevel meaning systems approach to conceptualizing and synthesizing the raw stuff of this topic. These steps will help integrate our knowledge across multiple levels of analysis, and situate our research within and connect it to a vast universe of knowledge. Thus, we will no longer be segmented off from the rest of psychology, talking mostly to ourselves.

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