The fact that not only do religious believers sometimes question, struggle with, or even doubt their beliefs, but that resolving these issues can lead someone to a greater level of acceptance and understanding of their faith has been embodied in the form of quest-orientation for some time (Batson & Ventis, 1982). But recently, researchers studying the psychology of religion and spirituality have become more interested in how these spiritual stuggles might also lead towards distress as well (Exline, Pargament, Grubbs, & Yali, 2014). But are these struggles only experienced by the ‘religious’ about ‘religious’ beliefs? Or could people, even nonbelievers, also experience analogous struggles which impact their lives, for both good and bad.
In this podcast, psychologist Dr. Julie Exline talks about her work in developing the Religious and Spiritual Struggles scale, where the original ideas came from and how they interacted with her previous work surrounding anger towards god (Exline, Park, Smyth, & Carey, 2011). She then goes on to describe how some interesting findings within her previous work led her to be interested in whether or not nonbelievers experience similar ‘spiritual’ struggles, if they could be measured and compared to believers’ struggles, and how to measure them in a way valid for both believers and nonbelievers. She also gives a brief overview of some of her current work and interests in the area of nonbelief and secularity more broadly.
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- Batson, C. D., & Ventis, W. L. (1982). The religious experience: A social-psychological perspective. Oxford University Press, USA.
- Exline, J. J., Pargament, K. I., Grubbs, J. B., & Yali, A. M. (2014). The Religious and Spiritual Struggles Scale: Development and initial validation. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), 208–222. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0036465
- Exline, J. J., Park, C. L., Smyth, J. M., & Carey, M. P. (2011). Anger toward God: Social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(1), 129–148. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0021716