Fraser Watts – the Psychology of Religion

There is a convenient summary of much of his work in:

  • Watts, F. (2014) Mind, consciousness and religion. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 21 (3-4), 216-229.

A central theme in his recent theoretical work has been the distinction between two different modes of central cognition, commonly referred to as ‘head’ and ‘heart. On this, see:

  • Watts, F. & Dumbreck, G. (eds.) (2013) Head and Heart: Perspectives from Religion and Psychology. Philadelphia, Templeton Press.

He has also been concerned about the evolution of religion, being critical of the currently fashionable ‘cognitive science of religion’ (CSR) approach. He has employed dual-cognition theory in developing an alternative, see:

  • Watts, F. & Turner, L. (eds.) (2014) Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science: Critical and Constructive Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

More recently, he has been influenced by Robin Dunbar’s approach to the evolution of religion, which sees religion as having been important in facilitating social bonding rather than, as with CSR, arising from a cognitive confusion between animate and inanimate domains. On this, see:

  • Watts, F. (in press) The origins and functions of religion: social and cognitive aspects. In S. Khalili & F. Watts (eds.) Science and/or Religion; A 21st Century Debate. Newcastle-on-Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Press.

Another recent strand of interest has been research on spiritual healing from the perspective of health psychology, for example:

  • Williams, R. J. and Watts, F. N. (2014) Attributions in a spiritual healing context: An archival analysis of a 1920s healing movement. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 53(1), pp. 90-108.

He has recently completed an overview of the psychology of religion, to be published shortly:

  • Watts, F. (in press) Psychology, Religion and Spirituality: Concepts and Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.