An introduction to the psychology of religion, with emphasis on what research in contemporary cognitive and evolutionary psychology says about human religious belief and behaviour.
Can religious belief and behaviour be explained by science? What does cognitive and evolutionary psychology tell us about belief in god? Is religion universal? Is religion a product of human evolution? How does religious belief develop in childhood? What social functions does religion serve? Combining scholarship on religion and psychology, this paper introduces students to the important interdisciplinary field of psychology of religion. In addition to the above questions, students will learn about the latest research on the psychology of terrorism, the psychology of atheism and the psychological effects of religion on prejudice/tolerance. No background experience in religion or psychology is required.
|Paper title||Psychology of Religion (Advanced)|
|Points||18 points 18 points|
|Teaching period(s)||Second Semester, Second Semester|
|Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD)||$868.95|
|International Tuition Fees (NZD)||$3,656.70|
- 18 200-level RELS or PSYC points
- RELS 237
- Schedule C
- Arts and Music, Theology
- May not be credited together with RELS 231 or RELS 331 passed in 2016.
- More information link
- View more information on the Department of Theology and Religion's websites: Theology or Religion
- Teaching staff
- Lecturer: Dr John Shaver
- Paper Structure
- This paper is divided into three modules:
- The cognitive foundations of religious belief
- The social functions of religious belief
- Explaining modern forms of belief: from fundamentalists to atheists
- Quizzes (20%)
- Essays (40%)
- Midterm and Final Examinations (40%)
- Teaching Arrangements
- For on-campus students there is one 2-hour lecture per week.
For distance students there are fortnightly tutorials (via Zoom).
- A coursebook containing lecture notes and readings is available for this paper. Printed copies will be provided for distance students and are also available through the printshop. The coursebook is also available as a PDF through Blackboard.
- Course outline
- View the sample course outline for RELS 337
- Graduate Attributes Emphasised
- Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship,
Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy,
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
- Learning Outcomes
- Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to
- Understand psychological theories of religion and evaluate research that tests these theories
- Understand the different methods employed in the psychology of religion and their relative strengths and weaknesses
- Evaluate arguments based on empirical data
- Write a clear, persuasive and original commentary about an evidence-based study
- Relate psychological approaches of religion to one another and argue for the merits of one theory relative to another based on evidence
- Articulate the strengths and weaknesses of psychological approaches to religion