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In Conjectures and Controversy in the Study of Fundamentalism, W. Paul Williamson takes a critical look at the sociohistorical emergence of fundamentalism and examines how historians constructed popular, though questionable, conceptions of the movement that have dominated decades of empirical research in psychology. He further analyzes the notions of militancy and anti-modernity as valid characterizations of fundamentalism and examines whether fundamentalism, as a Christian Protestant phenomenon, is useful in labelling global forms of religious extremism and violence. In observing the lack of theory-driven research, the publication offers theories that situate fundamentalism as a social psychological phenomenon as opposed to some personal predisposition. Students and scholars of fundamentalism will discover Conjectures and Controversy in the Study of Fundamentalism to be a provocative study on the topic.

Abstract

It is widely assumed that religion is responsible for dictating and guiding moral behavior. This study investigated that claim and its relationship to monetary incentive, self-esteem, and gender within the context of academic dishonesty. A sample of 65 undergraduate students (32 men; 33 women) were assessed using a revision of Allport's Religious Orientation Scale (Gorsuch & McPherson, 1989) and then monitored for cheating on a computerized version of the Graduate Records Exam under different experimental conditions. Self-esteem (high, average, low) and monetary incentive ($5, nothing) were manipulated, and gender was selected to measure their effect on cheating behavior. Results of this study found that: (1) participants' religious orientation was not related to their tendency to cheat in any way; (2) participants cheated significantly more when receiving monetary incentive for their performance than when they did not; (3) participants with induced low self-esteem cheated significantly more than those with induced high self-esteem; and (4) men cheated more than women at a level that bordered on significance (p < .06). Academic performance (GPA) was not found related to academic cheating. Findings are discussed in the context of existing literature.

In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion

Abstract

Although psychology of religion has amassed a significant empirical literature on religious fundamentalism, it largely has ignored the sociohistorical context within which Protestant fundamentalism arose and has relied uncritically upon such popular notions as militancy, anti-modernism, and global fundamentalism in much of its research. This monograph will critically review sociohistorical reconstructions of fundamentalism that have heavily influenced the views of society and psychologists; discuss problematic concepts that emerged from those reconstructions; and highlight theories based on the social dynamics of fundamentalism. Focus on these issues will underscore the need for a critical review of empirical research, which is reserved for a second monograph.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and Psychology

Abstract

Although psychology of religion has amassed a significant empirical literature on religious fundamentalism, it largely has ignored the sociohistorical context within which Protestant fundamentalism arose and has relied uncritically upon such popular notions as militancy, anti-modernism, and global fundamentalism in much of its research. This monograph will critically review sociohistorical reconstructions of fundamentalism that have heavily influenced the views of society and psychologists; discuss problematic concepts that emerged from those reconstructions; and highlight theories based on the social dynamics of fundamentalism. Focus on these issues will underscore the need for a critical review of empirical research, which is reserved for a second monograph.

In: Conjectures and Controversy in the Study of Fundamentalism