Psychology professor presents research

Dr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College, has recently presented his research at conferences in California and Georgia.

Edman presented his research, “The Faithful Brain: Using the Science of Faith in our Faith Practice,” at the third  annual Conference of Psychology and Spiritual Formation in La Mirada, Calif, sponsored by Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought. Edman’s presentation focused on how the cognitive science of religion (CSR) and the psychology of religion can influence the way people live out their faith, including how faith is taught to children and worship is structured and practiced.

At the Christian Association for Psychological Studies conference in Atlanta, Edman presented his research, “Is This Stuff Even Christian? Current Research in the Cognitive Science of Religion.” His presentation sought to help Christians in psychology understand the discipline of CSR, a new field that focuses on how human cognitive structures predispose people to be religious in certain ways. “Most of the work in CSR has been done by atheists or agnostics, and thus the field has an anti-religious bias that is not warranted by the data,” explains Edman. “My hope was to help Christians see how this field can be valuable and needs more Christians in it.”

Edman gave a second presentation at the conference, entitled “Can We Even Measure This? Assessing Integration in Council for Christian Colleges & Universities’ (CCCU) Psychology Departments.” This presentation was based on a survey of CCCU psychology departments and how they taught and assessed the integration of faith and learning in psychology. “Our conclusion was that most CCCU schools don’t do this very well and that Northwestern’s program is a model for how to do it,” says Edman.

A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 2003, Edman earned the college’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2008 and holds the Northwestern College Endowed Chair in Psychology, which has partially funded his research. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Psychological Reports, The Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, and The National Honors Report. After earning master’s degrees in both psychology and English from the University of Notre Dame, Edman went on to earn a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.