A news crew from the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” was on campus Sept. 16 to interview members of BGSU’s Spirituality and Psychology Research Team (SPiRiT) for several segments scheduled for broadcast this fall.
Debbie Harper, a “700 Club” reporter/producer, talked to psychology faculty Drs. Kenneth Pargament and Annette Mahoney, co-directors of SPiRiT, as well as psychology graduate-student members of the group. She and her crew also sat in on a meeting of the team, which aims to understand and facilitate connections between spirituality, health and well-being through the methods of psychology.
The work is done through a number of research studies, some of which will be featured on “The 700 Club,” which airs on the ABC Family network. The segments’ specific broadcast dates aren’t known yet, but Harper said they should air in the next month or so. She said the program’s viewership exceeds one million households daily in the United States, and its content is also used on international versions of “The 700 Club”—which is broadcast in 200 countries and 70 languages—and on CBN.com.
In addition to a story about SPiRiT, segments are planned on studies of:
• college students’ spiritual struggles, including an effort to help them deal with those struggles.
• how people think about Jesus and if those perceptions impact their lives.
• spirituality and divorce.
• religion and coping.
For some people, religion is the number-one coping resource in difficult times, said Pargament, who has studied the spirituality-psychology connection throughout his 30 years at BGSU. Mahoney’s work during her 15 years at the University has demonstrated that religion impacts not only individuals but also family life, he added.
The faculty and graduate students in SPiRiT come from various—or no—faith backgrounds, and their open, unbiased approach is among the unique aspects of the research, Pargament said. Also distinctive, he noted, is that the team has addressed both potential spiritual benefits and harm—as when difficulties in life shake one’s beliefs to the point of adversely affecting health and well-being.
Those implications for well-being are indicative that humans are spiritual as well as physical, psychological and social beings, Pargament said. “The weight of the evidence says religion makes a difference,” he continued, saying that SPiRiT also hopes to make a difference, in peoples’ lives, by moving from research to practice.
Harper said she became aware of the spirituality research being conducted by BGSU psychologists through an acquaintance of Pargament’s, Toledo physician Dr. Blair Grubb, whom she had interviewed for a story about one of his patients.