The New Age has been reported to be an exemplary religion of modernity, that emphasizes the importance of autonomy and self-development. Attempts to establish whether New Age ideas and practices were oriented toward self-transcendence or if, instead, they reinforced secular individualistic values and behaviors have become a central point of debate among researchers. In order to bring some new light to this debate we compared New Age with Roman Catholic and atheist/agnostic participants on a battery of social-psychological measures, including values, self-concepts, and individualism/collectivism. Results indicate that New Age individuals adopt an individualist outlook similar to that of nonreligious people, but also define themselves using a set of abstract holistic self-concepts, show avoidance of competitive goals, and stress values of universalism. We call this pattern "holistic individualism" for its fusion of an individualistic value orientation with highly abstract holistic perceptions of the self.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies