The Cultural Psychology of Religion Research Initiative hopes to invite Chinese and Western scholars to develop a research program around any of the following five themes. The five themes will serve, we hope, to generate a coherent body of knowledge. In each case known cultural differences may result in differences in the nature of religious belief, emotions, behaviors and relationships.

  1. Methodological innovation: Can Western instrumentation be of use in the Chinese context? Are the current adaptations to the cultural context adequate? How important will it be to develop home-grown measures?
  2. Conversion/deconversion/atheism: How do individuals join, leave or reject any of China’s five official religions (Islam, Daoism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Protestantism) and how does that compare with the West?
  3. Attachment and spirituality: Attachment is not an identical process in each of these types of cultures. If attachment is influenced by whether a culture is more independent or interdependent then the texture of religion might also be influenced. So, in a more collective society, what are the critical dimensions of attachment and how are they related to experiencing the transcendent?
  4. The quality of the communal religious life: Little is known psychologically about the religious experiences of China’s many ethnic minorities. One might ask how does the quality, intensity and cohesion of the various ethno-religious groups and/or the five official religions shape religious experience and beliefs of individuals? In what specific ways does religious experience facilitate social harmony and human flourishing ?
  5. Religion and health: Can one demonstrate under what circumstances religion is or is not injurious to one’s health? What are the coping strategies that religious people use when there is a crisis? Do spiritually informed change interventions result in change and transformation?

Research Population

The research population includes the five official religious groups (Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, Taoism), as well as the less studied populations such as China’s 55 ethnic minorities, many of whom have strong religious traditions. These religious groups could be compared and contrasted in terms of the impact of culture/religion on the personalities of Chinese individuals.