The self and the sacred: exploring the relationships between experiences deemed spiritual or religious and beliefs using interpretative phenomenological analysis

PhD Thesis


Murphy, J. 2021. The self and the sacred: exploring the relationships between experiences deemed spiritual or religious and beliefs using interpretative phenomenological analysis. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Psychology and Life Sciences
AuthorsMurphy, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy
Abstract

Experiences deemed spiritual or religious play important but complex roles in the life narratives and meaning systems of many. The relationship between these experiences and individuals’ beliefs and worldviews is only partially understood. This thesis explores how people make sense of these experiences and shows the significant influences they can have on people’s beliefs and behaviors. It develops Stratified Multiperspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (SMIPA) as a methodology to investigate the experiences of four distinct groups in England: Christians (Baptists), Muslims, Hindus, and a group who identified as ‘Spiritual but not Religious’ (SBNR). Each group’s experiences were studied individually and then the findings were integrated using principles of qualitative research synthesis to develop a fuller understanding of the phenomena. The 20 participants created personal worldviews, using both their experiences and relationships to help them understand the world. They described a diverse range of experiences they considered spiritual or religious, and these experiences played crucial roles in developing and affirming their belief systems. Interactions with other people influenced both their experiences and how they made sense of them. The participants also developed personally significant relationships between themselves and God (or other supernatural agents), and these relationships helped shape their worldviews and experiences. Personal, social, and cultural factors all influenced how they experienced the world and interpreted their experiences. These studies show the importance of adopting broader and more holistic perspectives when studying how people make sense of the world, that include but are not limited to phenomena they consider religious or spiritual.

KeywordsSpiritual beliefs; Religious beliefs; Interpretative phenomenological analysis; Experiences; Relationships
Year2021
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File Access Level
Open
Supplemental file
File Access Level
Restricted
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Dec 2021
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8zx0z/the-self-and-the-sacred-exploring-the-relationships-between-experiences-deemed-spiritual-or-religious-and-beliefs-using-interpretative-phenomenological-analysis

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