Co-sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, the Spirituality and Psychology Research Team (SPiRiT), the BGSU Department of Psychology and the Center for Family and Demographic Research

Left to right:  Chris Boyatzis, Susan Brown, Melinda Denton, Wendy Manning, Annette Mahoney, Frank Fincham, Kara Joyner, and Ken Pargament

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
8:30 am - 12:30 pm
201 Bowen-Thompson Student Union


Over the past 25 years, a substantial body of research has accumulated on the significant implications of spirituality for health and well-being.  The lion’s share of this research has focused on spirituality at the individual level of analysis – how individuals experience and express their spirituality, and how spirituality affects individual health and well-being.  Yet, according to most definitions, spirituality is first and foremost about connectedness with whatever the individual may hold sacred, be it God, romantic relationships, marriage, family, friends, or community.  In recent years, social scientists have begun to examine how relational spirituality can help or harm our social lives. Relational spirituality refers to when spirituality is involved, for better and worse, in the formation, maintenance and transformation of relationships. Relational spirituality offers a conceptual lens to identify and foster cutting-edge scientific research on specific spiritual beliefs and behaviors about a wide range of family experiences (for more, click on BGSU’s Psychology of Spirituality and Family Relationships website).

This research conference will bring together several pioneers who will share innovative findings on Relational Spirituality. Although research in this area is in its early stages of development, strong ties between relational spirituality and the quality of family relationships in married, cohabiting, and divorced families are being established. These findings illustrate that rigorous scientific research can encompass those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” as well as “spiritual and religious.” This symposium will provide insights into this emerging field of study.

As a panel, the invited researchers will discuss how they each became involved in this area of inquiry and share a segment of their journey as scholars with the audience. Ample time will be devoted to “live discussion” between the panelists and audience participants. Panelists will highlight specific and unique findings that have been uncovered on spirituality and family relationships. These will include the sanctity of marital and cohabiting unions, spiritual intimacy between family members, praying for a partner’s well-being, and young adults’ spiritual struggles with divorce. (For information on these constructs, follow this link). Panelists will also discuss particular problems they have run into in conducting research on faith and families, and will offer their solutions to these challenges. They will also consider promising directions to help expand knowledge and practice in this vital domain.

Further reading:  Mahoney, A. (2010). Religion in families 1999-2009: A relational spirituality framework. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 805-827.

 Guest Panelists:

  • Dr. Chris Boyatzis (Department of Psychology, Bucknell University)
  • Dr. Melinda Denton (Department of Sociology, Clemson University)
  • Dr. Frank Fincham (FSU Family Institute, Florida State University)
  • Dr. Annette Mahoney (Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University)
  • Dr. Kenneth Pargament (Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University)

Updated: 09/09/2020 01:30PM