David Wulff

Professor of Psychology, Emeritus



Main Interests

Personality psychology (including theories of personality and methods of assessment); psychology of religion (history, theories, research methods, and philosophical issues); phenomenology of everyday experiences.

Other Interests

I am co-editor for the Archive of the Psychology of Religion and book review editor for the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. I serve on the editorial boards of various journals and book series in this field. I live in the College Hill Historic District of Providence, RI, in an 1828 house that took many years and much research to restore and appropriately furnish. Classical music and gardening are among my other interests.


Ph.D., University of Michigan
B.A., Wittenberg University
Th.D.(honorary), Lund University, Sweden

Research Interests

My published scholarly work is mainly in the psychology of religion, including my book, Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary (2nd edition; Wiley, 1997). Current projects include: the editing of a handbook of the psychology of religion for Oxford University Press; the development of the Faith Q-Sort, a device for assessing a wide variety of “faith” positions, ranging from indifference or even hostility toward religion or spirituality to strongly favorable attitudes, both conservative and liberal; narrative analysis of becoming an agnostic or atheist; a book tentatively entitled “Contemporary Foundations for the Psychology of Religion: A Critical Reappraisal,” contracted with APA Books; and a book on the mind of the religious conservative, based on my 2007 Edward Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham, England.

Teaching Interests

In most of my courses, from Introductory Psychology to Laboratory in Qualitative Research, I accent the wide range of perspectives that make up contemporary psychology, from the rigorously scientific approaches at one end of the spectrum to the qualitative-interpretive approaches at the other. My course in the psychology of religion likewise represents a diversity of views. But one of my courses is entirely given over to descriptive-interpretive perspectives: “Experiencing: The Phenomenology of Everyday Life” is a study of phenomenological psychology as it may be applied to a variety of everyday experiences–including reading and writing, driving a car, and occupying a hotel room–as well as to experiences that are foreign to most of us, such as being autistic or totally paralyzed.


Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997. 760 pp. First edition: 1991.

Faith Q-Sort (2009). Manual in preparation.

Empirical Research on Religion: Perspectives from the Psychology of Religion. In H.-G. Heimbrock and C. Scholtz (Eds.): Religion: Immediate Experience and the Mediacy of Research; Interdisciplinary studies in Objectives, Concepts and Methodology of Empirical Research in Religion. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007. Pp. 259-273.

How Attached Should We Be to Attachment Theory? International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 2006, 16(1), 29-36.

Listening to James a Century Later: The Varieties as a Resource for Renewing the Psychology of Religion. In J. Carrette (Ed.), William James and The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Centenary Celebration. London: Routledge, 2004. Pp. 47-57.

A Field in Crisis: Is It Time for the Psychology of Religion to Start Over? in P. H. M. P. Roelofsma, J. M. T. Corveleyn, and J. W. Van Saane (Eds.), A Hundred Years of Psychology of Religion: Issues and Trends in a Century Long Quest. Amsterdam: VU University Press, 2003. Pp. 1-17.

The Psychology of Religion and the Problem of Apologetics. [Festschrift in Honor of Nils G. Holm, Åbo Akademi University, Finland]. Dedicated volume of Temenos, Studies in Comparative Religion, 2001-2002, 37- 38, 241-261.

A Century of Conversion in American Psychology of Religion. In C. Henning and E. Nestler (Eds.), Konversion: Zur Aktualität eines Jahrhundertthemas. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 2002. Pp. 43-73.

The Psychology of Religion: An Overview. In D. Jonte-Pace and W. B. Parsons (Eds.), Religion and Psychology: Mapping the Terrain. London: Routledge, 2001. Pp. 15-29.

Mystical Experience. In E. Cardeña, S. J. Lynn, and S. Krippner (Eds.), Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2000. Pp. 397-440.

Psychologists Define Religion: Patterns and Prospects of a Century-Long Quest. In J. G. Platvoet and A. L. Molendijk (Eds.), The Pragmatics of Defining Religion: Contexts, Concepts, and Contests. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Pp. 207-224.

Beyond Belief and Unbelief. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 1999, 10, 1-15.

Psychology of Religion. Psychology Teacher Network, 1999, May-June, 2-4, 8.

Rethinking the Rise and Fall of the Psychology of Religion. In Arie L. Molendijk and Peter Pels (Eds.), Religion in the Making: The Emergence of the Sciences of Religion. Leiden: Brill, 1998. Pp. 181-202.

The Psychology of Religion: An Overview. In E. P. Shafranske (Ed.), Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1996. Pp. 43-70.

Phenomenological Psychology and Religious Experience. In R. W. Hood, Jr. (Ed.), Handbook of Religious Experience. Birmingham, Ala.: Religious Education Press, 1995. Pp. 183-199.

The Challenge of Resurgent Fundamentalism: A Psychologist’s Reflections. Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift, 1994, 70, 49-56.

Reality, Illusion, or Metaphor? Reflections on the Conduct and Object of the Psychology of Religion. Journal of the Psychology of Religion, 1992, 1, 25-51.

Psychological Approaches. In F. Whaling (Ed.), Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion, Vol. 2, The Social Sciences. The Hague: Mouton, 1985. (Volume 28 in the “Religion and Reason” series, J. Waardenburg, general editor.) Pp. 21-88.