Early Career Psychologist Corner

Towards a Multilevel Interdisciplinary Paradigm for Psychology by Early Career Psychologists

A group of early career psychologists and students have developed a Multilevel Interdisciplinary Paradigm (MIP) as a unifying theoretical model for the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality.
By Kevin A. Harris, PhD, Evelena McCutcheon, BA, Yaritza Baltier, BA, Jacqueline A. Cummings, BA, Ashley Moreland, Kynnie Campbell, BA, and Belinder Heredia, BA

A group of early career psychologists and students have developed a Multilevel Interdisciplinary Paradigm (MIP) as a unifying theoretical model for the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality. (For more information, see the Aitheros Research Association.)

Decades of research suggests that the faith constructs of religiousness, spirituality, faith and the sacred are defined in terms of 40 terms, which are defined around a “common faith core” of six construct components: beliefs, divine/transcendence, human experience, meaning/purpose, practices and relationship. Fowler’s (1981) research suggests that faith goes through six stages of faith: imaginative, literal, group, individual, mystical and sacrificial (to use Sweeney’s 2002 terminology). Wellness research suggests that there are six broad domains of inquiry: physical, cognitive, affective, behavioral, social and spiritual. At least 166 research methods inform this research, grouped into eight classes: opinion “research,” qualitative research, mixed methods, observational and descriptive research, pre-experimental research and three kinds of experimental research (empirical quantification, evaluative techniques, and quantitative assessment). At least 28 different theories and theoretical orientations inform this research as well. Finally, this model is relevant to at least 16 different disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, history, political science, criminology, neurology, neuroscience, social work, counseling, nursing, medicine, theology and philosophy.

Consequently, we propose a 7-level MIP for the psychology of religion and spirituality. Level 7 contains the four constructs, six construct components and 40 terms. Level 6 contains the eight classes of 166 research methods, Level 5 contains the 28 theories and theoretical orientations, and Level 4 contains the 16 disciplines this MIP is relevant to. Level 3 contains Fowler’s (1981) six stages of faith, and Level 2 contains the six broad domains of inquiry. Level 1 contains one construct – “r,” the unifying construct for the field of the psychology of religion and spirituality. To validate this theory, we are conducting a survey of the membership of Div. 36, a Delphi study with Div. 36 leaders and an exploratory factor analysis of the 40 Level 7 constructs. The results to date are presented. They are promising for the proposed MIP for the psychology of religion and spirituality.

MIP Level 6 Research Methods

Opinion “Research”: Anecdotal and Expert Opinions, Philosophical Design

Qualitative Research: Qualitative Apprehension (Inductive and Qualitative) — do-it-yourself juries, dissensus groups, community art, open space, participatory theatre, comprehensive archive research, influence mapping, ethnomethodology, collaborative design, social experiment; Grounded Methods (Abductive and Qualitative) — social assessment, power tools, concurrent evidence, historical method, action research, participatory backcasting, stakeholder negotiation, studying up, biography, semi-structured interviews, multi-sited ethnography, historiography, innovative histories; Interpretive Analysis (Deductive and Qualitative) — photo-elicitation, imaginaries analysis, structured deliberation, discourse analysis, performative approaches, narrative analysis, situational analysis, arts catalyst, evidentiary presumptions, process tracing, situational activism, critical pedagogy, focus groups; Historical designs; Theoretical Studies

Mixed Methods: Hybrid Appraisal (Inductive and Mixed) — extended foresight, natural experiment, surveillance, alternatives assessment, precautionary appraisal, value chain analysis, participatory rural appraisal, multicriteria mapping, critical accounting, technology assessment, cooperative research, citizen science; Appreciative Approaches (Abductive and Mixed) — scenario workshops, case studies, futures visioning, soft systems theory, Q method, post-normal science, resilience analysis, planning cells, deliberative polling, cross-frame analysis, spatial analysis, critical triangulation; Mixed Theory (Deductive and Mixed) — constructive technology assessment, network analysis, diversity mapping, counterfactuals, uncertainty analysis, Delphi analysis, capabilities assessment, interactive diagrams, systems histories, systems theory, road-mapping, study groups, needs analysis; Content Analysis; Ex-post-facto studies

Observational and Descriptive Research: Animal and Cell Studies (Observational), Case Reports and Case Series (Observational), Observational descriptive studies/Naturalistic observation, Case-Control Studies, Survey descriptive studies, Cohort Studies (Observational); Quantitative Assessment (Deductive and Quantitative Description) — crowdsourcing, opinion surveys

Pre-Experimental Research: Instrumental studies, Quasi-experiments, Small N design, Correlational research, Single case experimental studies, Exploratory designs, Animal and Cell Studies (Experimental)

Experimental Research – Empirical Quantification: Experimental lab research in humans; Experimental designs: Between-subjects designs, within-subjects designs, repeated measures designs, pretest-posttest designs, Solomon four-group design, cross-sectional designs, cohort-sequential design, baseline designs, dynamic designs, discrete trial designs; Empirical Quantification (Inductive and Quantitative) — longitudinal methods, data mining, monitoring, co-word analysis, remote sensing, social indicators, experimental economics, cladistic taxonomy, attitudinal scaling, econometrics, statistical methods, scientometrics

Experimental Research – Evaluative Techniques: Experimental field research in humans; Experimental designs; Evaluative Techniques (Abductive and Quantitative) — panel studies, technometrics, Bayesian models, sensitivity analysis, gaming techniques, social multicriteria analysis, environmental assessment, decision analysis, evaluation methods, agent-based modeling, interactive visualization; Action Research, Causal Design, Practice Guidelines, Meta-Analysis

Experimental Research – Quantitative Assessment: Experimental field research in humans; Experimental designs; Quantitative Assessment (Deductive and Quantitative) — integrated assessment, crowdsourcing experiments, interactive modeling, cost benefit analysis, ecological footprint, contingent valuation, probabilistic risk analysis, information theory, lifecycle approaches, optimization modeling; Longitudinal designs, multivariate designs, causal modeling, mediation, moderation, mediated moderation and moderated mediation; Factor analysis and structural equations modeling, Systematic Review, Randomized Controlled Trials (Experimental)

The Multilevel Interdisciplinary Paradigm (MIP)

Harris, McCutcheon, Baltier, Cummings, Moreland, Campbell, & Heredia (2018)

A printable, graphic representation of the Multilevel Interdisciplinary Paradigm (MIP) is available in PDF format (PDF, 144KB).

Level 1: r

This is the top level of the pyramid.

Level 2: Domains

This second level down from the top of the pyramid includes the physical, cognitive, affective, behavioral, social and spiritual.

Level 3: Stages of Faith

This third level down from the top of the pyramid includes the imaginative, literal, group, individual, mystical and sacrificial.

Level 4: Disciplines

This fourth level down from the top of the pyramid includes psychology, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, economic, history, political science, criminology, neurology, neuroscience, social work, counseling, nursing, medicine, theology and philosophy.

Level 5: Theoretical Orientations

This fifth level down from the top of the pyramid includes the medical model, behaviorism, psychoanalysis, ego, psychology, object relations, attachment theory, Adlerian theory, Jungian Theory, interpersonal theory, cognitive-behaviorism, reality therapy, attribution theory, uncertainty-identity theory, person-centered theory, Gestalt therapy, existentialism, family systems theory, feminism, multiculturalism, transpersonal psychology, neuro level theories, cognitive anthropomorphism, cognitive structures, cognitive processes, group selection theory, Big Gods theory, evolutionary cascade and paleolithic imaginative play.

Level 6: Research Methods

This sixth level down from the top of the pyramid includes opinion “research,” qualitative research, mixed methods, observational and descriptive research, pre-experimental research, experimental research-empirical quantification, experimental research-evaluative techniques and experimental research-quantitative assessment.

Level 7: Faith Constructs, Components and Terms

Religiousness, Spirituality, Faith, Sacred Beliefs, Practices, Relationship, Human Experience, Meaning/Purpose and Divine/Transcendence

This seventh level down from the top of the pyramid, which also forms the base of the pyramid, includes awe, beliefs, cognition, conversion, crisis, culture, development, divine, doubt, emotions, everyday life, faith, guidance, holy, identity, institution, journey, love, meaning, morality, motivation, negative valence, organization, personal experience, positive valence, practices, prayer, prejudice, purpose, relationship, religious conflict, religious coping, religiousness, sacred, search, spirituality, transcendence, trust, unknown and well-being.

Author Bios:

Kevin Harris is an assistant professor of psychology at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. His research interests include the psychology of religion and spirituality, the psychology of music, campus sexual assault prevention and the Integrative Model of Psychology. Evelena McCutcheon, Yaritza Baltier, Jacqueline A. Cummings, Ashley Moreland, Kynnie Campbell and Belinder Heredia are students at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin and Our Lady of the Lake University.

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