The sacred and the search for significance: Religion as a unique process

Kenneth I. Pargament, Gina M. Magyar-Russell, Nichole A. Murray-Swank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Although many social scientists have assumed that religion can be reduced to more basic processes, there may be something unique about religion. By definition, religion has a distinctively meaningful point of reference, the sacred. Empirically, studies also suggest that religion may be a unique: form of motivation; source of value and significance; contributor to mortality and health; source of coping; and source of distress. These findings point to the need for: theory and research on the sacred; attention to the pluralization of religious beliefs and practices; evaluation of individual and social interventions that address spiritual problems and apply spiritual resources to their resolution; and collaboration between psychological and religious groups that draws on their unique identities and strengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-687
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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