Allen E. Bergin


For many decades, lassitude and malaise hae afflicted the relationship between psychology and religion. Interest and activity in this relationship are now being renewed, and old controversies with new terms are resurfacing. This article reviews the extensive empirical literature on the topic and shows that religiosity is a complex phenomenon with numerous correlates and consequences that defy simple interpretations. A meta-analysis of 24 pertinent studies revealed no support for the preconception that religiousness is necessarily corelated with psychopathology; but it also showed only slightly positive correlates of religion. Sociological and psychiatric reports were more favorable to religion. The data's ambiguities compare with those ambiguities that formerly characterized psychotherapy research. Better specification of concepts and methods of measuring religiosity are alleviating this problem, which suggests that ambiguous results reflect a multidimensional phenomenon that has mixed positive and negative aspects. Averaging such diverse factors generally yields unimpressive findings, whereas using specificity promises clearer and more powerful results. Clinical education, practice, and research need revision so that professionals will be better informed of the evidence, more open to the study of such variables, and more efficacious in their work with persons who approach life from a religious perspective.