Faith, Politics, and the Life Story

Dan P. McAdams and Regina L. Logan have completed data collection for a study examining how people of faith understand their own lives and their political involvement in society. The study goes beyond opinion surveys and polls to explore the psychology of faith and politics in an effort to understand how American adults make sense of their lives as committed Christians and informed citizens. The study examines the relations between American adults’ (1) religious faith and spirituality, (2) political preferences and behavior, and (3) narrative understanding of their own lives. In recent years, psychologists and sociologists have conducted many studies of religious beliefs and practices among Americans, focusing on issues like church attendance, spiritual practices, and the effects of religion on health. Political psychologists have employed surveys and interviews to examine the relations between voting and political behavior on the one hand and personality traits, values, beliefs, and goals on the other. Dan McAdams and other narrative psychologists have explored the ways in which people, beginning in young adulthood, construct self-defining stories to make sense of their own lives and consolidate a feeling of identity and purpose. This study has brought together these three traditions of research – the social science of religion, political psychology, and the narrative study of lives. Through questionnaires and interview, Personal Faith, Politics, and the Life Story examines the complex interrelations of faith, politics, and narrative identity in a diverse sample of adults who are both politically active and who identify with Christian religious institutions.

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