The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism   -     By: Ralph W. Hood Jr., Peter C. Hill, W. Paul Williamson
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The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

Guilford Press / 2005 / Hardcover

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Product Description

This book presents an innovative psychological framework for understanding religious fundamentalism. Blending extensive research and incisive analysis, the highly regarded authors distinguish fundamentalist traditions from other faith-based groups and illuminate the thinking and behavior of believers. Offering respectful, historically informed examinations of several major fundamentalist groups, the volume challenges many commonly important new terrain for the psychological study of religion.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 258
Vendor: Guilford Press
Publication Date: 2005
Dimensions: 9.38 X 6.38 (inches)
ISBN: 1593851502
ISBN-13: 9781593851507
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.

Publisher's Description

This book presents a new psychological framework for understanding religious fundamentalism, one that distinguishes fundamentalist traditions from other faith-based groups and helps explain the thinking and behavior of believers. Steering clear of stereotypes, the highly regarded authors offer respectful, historically informed examinations of several major fundamentalist groups. Focusing primarily on Protestant sects, including the Church of God (a Pentecostal denomination), the serpent handling sects of Appalachia, and the Amish, the book also discusses Islamic fundamentalism. Addressed are such key themes as the role of the sacred text within fundamentalism; how beliefs and practices that many find difficult to comprehend actually fit into coherent meaning systems; and how these meaning systems help meet individuals' needs for purpose, value, and self-worth.

Author Bio

Ralph W. Hood, Jr., is a social psychologist with a long-standing interest in the psychology of religion. He is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Although not a fundamentalist, Dr. Hood believes that fundamentalism has been poorly portrayed in the psychology of religion by researchers and scholars who are so distant from the assumptions and worldview of fundamentalists that they offer explanations for a phenomenon they have not adequately or fairly described.

Peter C. Hill was raised an evangelical in a family strongly committed to the church. He is currently a professor of psychology at Biola University's Rosemead School of Psychology. Biola University played a significant role in the early days of the Protestant fundamentalist movement and today identifies itself as an "interdenominational and yet theologically conservative" institution. The Rosemead School of Psychology seeks to advance a psychologically and Christian theologically integrated understanding of human nature.

W. Paul Williamson was born the son of a Church of God (of Prophecy) minister. He followed in his father's footsteps and became an ordained minister in the denomination, serving 17 years of full-time ministry. During his doctoral studies, he felt the need to resign from the clergy and from his affiliation with the church to pursue a career in academic psychology. He is currently an assistant professor of psychology at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Dr. Williamson draws upon a wealth of experience in a Pentecostal tradition, both as a former member and as clergy, allowing him unique insights into its fundamentalist worldview.

Editorial Reviews

"A highly readable and informative book that moves scholarship on fundamentalism forward. The authors present fundamentalist thought as a meaning system that is embedded within sociocultural, historical, and theological contexts. I highly recommend this creative and well-researched work to all students of fundamentalism seeking a better understanding of an often-misunderstood phenomenon."--Margaret M. Poloma, PhD, Department of Sociology (Emeritus), University of Akron; author of Main Street Mystics

"Hood, Hill, and Williamson have produced a remarkable book outlining a social psychological theory of fundamentalism, and applying this theory to historical and contemporary religious movements. Their work is much more sociologically informed and culturally grounded than prior psychological research focusing on Adorno’s authoritarian personality model. Indeed, their theory of fundamentalism is rooted in human needs for cognitive coherence, showing how fundamentalist religion provides accessible belief systems with comprehensive explanations for meaning and purpose....This is an important work, and it is easily the best work in the psychology of religion in a decade."/m-/Darren E. Sherkat, PhD, Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University

"This book represents a major advance in our understanding of fundamentalism, a subject ever more urgent in our post-9/11 world. The authors examine fundamentalism through solid psychological theory, and illustrate this theoretical perspective by examining a variety of specific religious fundamentalisms. Essential reading for students of religion, psychology, and sociology."--Crystal L. Park, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut

"This is a very important contribution to the psychology of religion literature and, more broadly, to religious scholarship. There have been very few treatments of Protestant fundamentalism that are more than merely a perpetuation of stereotypes. The authors provide a unique and vital perspective on the forms and functions of fundamentalism and its relevance in the world today. Any course on religion from a social science perspective should consider this text."--Robert A. Emmons, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

"This is superior-quality scholarship that beautifully accomplishes two difficult goals under the same cover. First, the volume presents psychological concepts that are ideal for understanding the personal, social-psychological, and behavioral aspects of religious fundamentalism. Second, it provides rich, instructive, and very interesting information about a range of fundamentalist Christian and Muslim groups. This material is revealing and will be new to most readers. The skillful application of the psychological concepts to the cases both increases one's sense of their depth and reach, and enriches one's understanding of the cases themselves. Highly recommended for courses in the psychology of religion or applied social psychology."--Raymond F. Paloutzian, PhD, Department of Psychology, Westmont College

"A work of disciplined scholarship that not only examines the reality of religious fundamentalism from a psychological perspective but also provides richly detailed histories of the development of a number of fundamentalist religious traditions....Great value not only for students of religion and the social sciences but for anyone who is trying to gain a better understanding of the worldview driving some of the terrorist actions in the Middle East."--Psychiatric Services

"The authors provide a scholarly and well-researched approach to the understanding of fundamentalism as a system of meaning....The scholarship in The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism is exceptional,....The definition and model of fundamentalism are unique, and within the bounds of what the authors state that they propose to do, the results are exceptional....The book is a rich source of information and ideas, and it provides grounding for further theoretical and empirical research in this profoundly important area for the modern world."--PsycCRITIQUES

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