How do members of New Religious Movements manage beliefs others might find unusual? A Grounded Theory

Prof Doc Thesis

Coleman, Naomi 2009. How do members of New Religious Movements manage beliefs others might find unusual? A Grounded Theory. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsColeman, Naomi
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Most research focusing on unusual beliefs investigates people in psychiatric services
who have been labelled delusional. We know relatively little about how people
outside of services manage beliefs that others may find unusual. Considering
research demonstrating that delusional ideation in the general population is
common, this study sought to explore how people manage these beliefs.
Individuals from New Religious Movements (NRMs) were selected as previous
research indicated they may score highly on measures of delusional ideation yet
show low levels of distress in relation to their beliefs. A social constructionist version
of Grounded Theory was used to analyse transcripts of eight interviews of people
from four different NRMs: The Aetherius Society; EnlightenNext; the Raelian
Movement and the Spiritualist Church. The mean age of the group was 50.6 years
and six participants described their ethnicity as White British and two participants as
White Other. The interviews covered four main topics: the history of their religious
beliefs; the significance of the beliefs; how individuals talked about their beliefs and
emotional states relating to their beliefs. In addition, the Peters et a/., Delusions
Inventory (1999) was used to measure delusional ideation and to contextualise the
participants' beliefs in relation to previous studies. A theory of how the participants
made sense of and accommodated their beliefs in terms of their own meaning
frameworks and others' beliefs systems without related disruption or distress was
developed. Individuals utilised both intellectual and emotional resources. Social
factors, including others' responses, impacted significantly on the way individuals
accommodated their beliefs.
It is recommended that clinicians explore the values and beliefs of individuals and
consider social support that may be available in order to enable individuals to make
sense of their experiences within their own meaning frameworks and to limit distress.

Publication dates
PrintMay 2009
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2014
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