Psychological Approaches to Leaving Religion

Kyle Messick, Miguel Farias

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    16 Downloads (Pure)


    Psychological research has offered various explanations as to why individuals leave, disavow, or never become affiliated with organised religion. Contributing factors include cognitive, social-emotional, biological, and the extent to which people pursue meaning as it relates to their state of well-being. The scientific study of unbelief is still in its formative stages, so there are important limitations to these theories and respective methodologies. In particular, theories that explain unbelief often start with a default position based on the study of religion, instead of studying unbelief in its own right. The history of these perspectives is provided and future directions are proposed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Leaving Religion
    EditorsDaniel Enstedt, Göran Larsson, Teemu T. Mantsinen
    PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9789004331471
    ISBN (Print)9789004330924
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2020

    Publication series

    NameBrill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion
    ISSN (Print)1874-6691

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


    • atheism
    • biology
    • cognitive science of religion
    • unbelief
    • well-being

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Religious studies


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