Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Hans Mol


Volney Gay




The point of departure for the thesis is the relative lack of systematic, descriptive, empirically-based generalizations in the four major traditional schools of psychology of religion, stemming from the work of Freud, Jung, James, and Adorno and the postwar social/personality psychologists. It is argued that all of these suffer from severe limitations of conceptual scope and data base, consequently falling short of developing a taxonomic, typological, and explanatory psychology of religion.

It is suggested that sociological conceptions of religion have tended to be more comprehensive and to possess greater explanatory power than psychological theories, and that theory from the former discipline might be fruitfully applied to empirical data from the latter. Mol's theory of religion as "sacralization of identity" is chosen, and its psychological contents are made explicit and subjected to verification through a search of empirical studies from the present decade relating religious variables to attitudes, behavior, personality constructs and psychological health.

The main findings are that religious individuals and non-religious individuals may be characterized by a basic structural difference in personality organization, with more religious individuals typically exhibiting an internalization of the "collective ideal", and less religious individuals possessing a personality which is organized toward greater autonomy.

The social dynamics of sacralization and secularizationg it is concluded, correspond to the two basic personality types epitomized by the principles of "integration through adjustment" and "self-actualization through autonomy", each of which represents a viable mode of adjustment.

McMaster University Library

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