Existential anxiety and religiosity

Analysis of the psychological processes involved in generating the sense of supernatural agency, as well as social scientific research into the factors most directly associated with the prevalence of religious belief and practice (religiosity), both support a common finding: the direct correlation b...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Critical research on religion
Main Author: Peters, Frederic (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2019]
In:Critical research on religion
Year: 2019, Volume: 7, Issue: 3, Pages: 275-291
Further subjects:B existential anxiety
B supernatural
B Religiosity
Online Access: Resolving-System
Description
Summary:Analysis of the psychological processes involved in generating the sense of supernatural agency, as well as social scientific research into the factors most directly associated with the prevalence of religious belief and practice (religiosity), both support a common finding: the direct correlation between levels of existential anxiety and the prevalence and intensity of religiosity (religious belief and practice). All functional elements of religion (beliefs, rituals, prayers) involve efforts to invoke, activate, and deploy supernatural causal agency of one sort or another. But religiosity varies throughout the world. This paper reviews psychological evidence that existential anxiety is the core factor activating the intra-psychic mechanisms that give rise to and constitute the nature of religiosity, and that variations in physical and socio-cultural pressures impinging on the individual give rise to variations in anxiety. This combination of intrinsic psychological mechanisms driven though existential anxiety by extrinsic physical, economic, and social pressures indicates that religiosity is best understood as a social-psychological process: socio-cultural factors activating anxiety which in turn drives the intra-psychic mechanisms generating the sense of supernatural agency expressed in belief and practice. By the same token, for analytical purposes, religions are most effectively viewed as social-psychological organisms: social organisms driven by intra-psychic mechanisms that constitute religious convictions and practices in the way that we find them—dedicated to and engaged with supernatural agency in its various forms.
ISSN:2050-3040
Contains:Enthalten in: Critical research on religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1177/2050303219874382