Psychophysiological Study of WorshipAlexis Abernethy, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, Pasadena, California
The Spirituality and Health research program of Dr. Abernethy and her students is interested in two primary research questions. What dimensions of spirituality influence preventive health behaviors, disease, and survival? How and through what mechanisms does spirituality influence preventive health behaviors, disease, and survival? Dr. Abernethy and her students are engaged in two major projects:
Scientific understanding of the role of worship
This three-year project, “Spiritual Experience in Worship: Cultural, Theological, and Psychological Perspectives” seeks to deepen our scientific understanding of the worship experiences of laity with specific interest in worship experiences that are transformational (e.g., change) and the potential health-related effects of worship. The specific aims are as follows: to understand how worship is experienced on a subjective level within and across ethnic and denominational groups; to identify key antecedent and facilitating conditions that contribute to worship experiences; and to assess whether certain types of worship experiences are associated with behavioral and health-related outcomes. This project has been funded in two phase: first phase $110,000 in part by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan (with funds provided by Lily Endowment Inc.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (Graduate School of Psychology, the Provost’s office, and the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts) and a second phase $163,430 from The Templeton Foundation.
Spirituality and health in women of African descent
This project examines the relationship between spirituality and health in women of African descent. Foci include the relationship between spirituality, overeating, and depression in African American women, as well as spirituality and resilience in African American adolescents. This research team also includes dissertation proposals that are examining self-objectification, eating disturbance, body image and spirituality in ethnically diverse populations.