Religion and the construction of identity

Roman Palitsky, Daniel Sullivan, Isaac F. Young, Harrison J. Schmitt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The relationship between religion and identity has been a fundamental but elusive inquiry throughout the history of the social sciences, from Durkheim’s classic work to the recent rise of experimental existential psychology (XXP). The psychology of religion in general, and XXP in particular, has tended in recent years toward unidimensional, quantitative operationalizations of “religiosity.” Drawing on a variety of existentially informed perspectives—such as cultural-existential psychology and existential anthropology—we propose a theoretical and methodological approach to religious identity wherein private, social, and developmental dimensions of religion and identity may be integrated. As a demonstration of this novel perspective, we review our own prior research on the construction of identity and existential emotions in minority religious congregations, as well as relevant work from other scholars on historically specific effects of religious identity on threat and defense processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128172049
ISBN (Print)9780128172056
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • culture
  • development
  • existential psychology
  • identity
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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