Malevich T.V. The Empirical Methods of Studying the Religious Experience in the Psychology of Religion: History and Contemporary Trends (the Second Half of the 20th and the Early 21st Century)

Malevich Tatyana Vladimirovna
Candidate of Philosophic Sciences, Researcher, Institute of Philosophy of RAS
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Volkhonka St., 14/5, 119991 Moscow, Russian Federation


Abstract. The given article is designed as the second part of the research project that presents the reconstruction of the history of empirical studies of religious experience in the psychology of religion and identifies the current trends in the field of research. In the given part of the research the author discusses the evolution of empirical research on religious experience in the second part of the 20th and the early 21st century and identifies the crucial factors in the revival of the empirical study of the experiential component of religion as well as its current tendencies. The analysis shows that from the 1960s onwards the empirical study of religious experience has been developing in the following directions. The first one is research on the experiential dimension of religiosity as part of its multidimensional models in the sociology of religion. The second one concentrates on the phenomenological analysis of first-hand descriptions of religious experience collected through questionnaires. The third one includes the development of psychometric scales to measure religious experience aiming at empirical testing of some of its conceptual models. Finally, the fourth one consists in experimental studies involving the induction of religious and mystical experiences in the laboratory and identification of their neurophysiological correlates. At the present time the psychology of religion seeks to design new tools for studying religious experiences and to construct conceptual models suitable for testing under controlled conditions.

Key words: psychology of religion, religious experience, mystical experience, methodology, empirical research methods, psychometric scales, neurotheology, multidimensional models of religiosity.

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The Empirical Methods of Studying the Religious Experience in the Psychology of Religion: History and Contemporary Trends (the Second Half of the 20th and the Early 21st Century) by Malevich T.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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