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Book Chapter

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Guilford Press


Over 80% of the world population identifies with a specific religion (Adherents. com, 2007; Central Intelligence Agency, 2011). For some individuals, this religion structures and shapes every dimension of their daily lives: what they wear, with whom they spend time, where they go, and what they eat. As important, but perhaps less overt, is how religion shapes people's psyches. Indeed, one of the major functions of religion is to provide followers with a way of understanding and coping with their life circumstances (see Pargament, Falb, Ano, & Wachholtz, Chapter 28, this volume; Park, 2005). Another is to provide a guide or map for how to lead a good life (in this volume, see Donahue & Nielsen, Chapter 16, and Park, Chapter 18). A central part of coping with life and leading a good life is regulating one's emotions. Indeed, several religious scholars have written about the centrality of emotion in religious experience (see Emmons, 2005a, for an excellent history of religion and emotion). For instance, ·two fundamental "truths" or tenets of Buddhism are that life is full of suffering, sorrow, and grief, and that the way to end this suffering is to relinquish one's attachments to the material world and achieve·"enlightenment" (Smith, 1991). In this chapter, we explore several ways in which religion may shape people's emotional lives, specifically their emotional goals, using the framework of affect valuation theory (AVT; Tsai, 2007). But first, we discuss our approach to religion.

Chapter of

Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed.)


Copyright © 2014 Guilford Press. Reprinted with permission of The Guilford Press.

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Psychology Commons



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