Keynote speakers and workshops


Prof. Valerie DeMarinis

Professor in Psychology of Religion at Uppsasla Unviersity, Sweden;
Visiting Professor in Public Health, at Umeå Medical School, Sweden;
Research director of the Public Mental Health Promotion and Existential Health Area, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Norway

Public health, public mental health, and psychology of religion

This lecture addresses the central question, What role does/can psychology of religion play in the current and future frameworks of public health and especially public mental health in a European perspective? Attention to, assessment of, and working with religious- and cultural information are within the top five priority areas in European public health and public mental health agendas. One of the top reasons for this relates to forced migration. However, there is also growing concern, especially in the more secularized countries in the EU, about the rise of mental ill-health not only in minority groups but in new segments of the majority population as well. Attention is given to naming the problem, providing a framework including psychology of religion as a vehicle for approaching the problem, and presenting a current research and clinical/community initiative in Public Mental Health Promotion to begin finding resources for moving forward.



Prof. Kevin Ladd

Indiana University South Bend

Prayer Vision

Visually oriented language is a part of many prayers: “Prayer helps me see God’s plan more clearly.” In this presentation, we explore links between how people engage spirituality via prayer and how they literally see the world around them. We hypothesized, for instance, that people with prayers focused on personal concerns would photograph “close-ups” or self-referential material; those who prayed mostly for others would return photos containing substantial numbers of people and other-referential material. As part of a larger investigation of prayer, participants (N = 120) each were given a digital camera for 1 week. They were asked to photograph sights they deemed “spiritually or prayerfully important.” Upon completion, participants verbally described each picture. Photos (approximately 2300) were hand coded by two independent researchers. Results support our expectations and suggest novel ways to use visual stimuli to address conflict resolution in spiritual settings by having people “see through the other person’s spectacles.”