“The Cultural Psychology of Theodicy” Daniel Sullivan, Department of Psychology

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Poetry Center

Join us for the launch of the ISRC 2014-15 Lecture Series on Psychology and Religion with a lecture by Daniel Sullivan of the Psychology Department
People have always had a need to make sense of seemingly random suffering. Yet different groups of people have addressed this problem very differently. Drawing on the existential thought of Nietzsche and Tillich, Sullivan proposes that some groups of people primarily try to resolve the problem of suffering in a way that leaves intact their sense of personal control and self-esteem. Others prioritize the preservation of a rigid meaning system in the face of suffering. He will present evidence supporting these ideas from a case study investigating the beliefs of members of different minority religions. Specifically, survey responses will be compared between Unitarian Universalists and traditionalist Mennonites. The findings point to systematic variation in the way people from different religious backgrounds psychologically cope with the major trials of life.