Raymond F. PALOUTZIAN and Crystal L. PARK, eds. Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2013. pp. 698. Np. ISBN 978-1-4625-1006-1. Reviewed by Calvin MERCER, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858
The 2005 first edition of this work has been received well by scholars working in this young field. This second edition is a substantial update and expansion that is likely to contribute significantly to the increasing research progress in the psychology of religion and spirituality.
The authors have been deeply involved in the development of this field through their teaching, writings, editorial work, and leadership in relevant organizations, such as the American Psychological Association Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality).
The 69 contributors include widely respected scholars, including as Roy F. Baumeister, Robert A. Emmons, Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Lee A. Kirkpatrick, Kenneth I. Pargament, Crystal L. Park, and Bernard Spilka. It is encouraging to see younger scholars and a number of doctoral students participate, often as co-authors, in producing quality contributions.
More than a collection of articles on a central theme, the editors have designed the volume around five unifying subthemes. Part 1 explores the theoretical foundations of the field, beginning with an overview chapter by the co-editors. The three chapters that comprise the short Part 2 are about developmental issues. Part 3, “Religion and Psychology Subdisciplines,” includes chapters on neuropsychology, cognitive science, affect valuation theory, personality, and social psychology.
Part 4 contains some of the more interesting material and includes chapters on religion and meaning, spiritual transformation, ritual and prayer, fundamentalism, forgiveness, and moral behavior. Part 5 is the applied section and incudes chapters about physical and mental health, coping, mindfulness, psychotherapy, workplace spirituality, and terrorism. A final chapter, written by the co-editors, looks at future directions for the field.
The topics that are new or greatly modified in this second edition indicate the vigor of the field and some of the directions being taken by scholars. For example, the chapter on mindfulness by Michael R. Levenson and Carolyn M. Aldwin provides an overview of how mindfulness is central to many religious traditions and is increasingly being studied for its relevance to psychology and adult development.
In their concluding chapter, the co-editors anticipate that in the coming years the field will give more attention to technology, globalization, and secularization. Additionally, we will see the continuation of the current trend of research being done by an increasingly diverse group of scholars, including sociologists, healthcare experts, anthropologists, cognitive neuroscientists, and others. The co-editors believe, however, that the psychology of religion and spirituality as a subdiscipline will continue.