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Professional Psychology: Debating Chamber · Psychology Journals · Psychologists


C. Daniel Batson (b. 1943) is a distinguished American social psychologist. He holds both doctoral degrees in Theology (from Princeton Theological Seminary) and Psychology (from Princeton University). He obtained his doctorate under John Darley and has taught at the University of Kansas. He is especially known for his contributions to two fields: the social psychology of altruism, and his psychology of religion.

Batson on altruismEdit

Batson has become famous for the "empathy-altruism" theory, which states that we are more likely to become altruistic towards other when we empathise with them. He believes he has published experimental research to support this view. The theory implies that pure altruism is possible, although critics who believe that all apparently altruistic actions are actually covert forms of self-serving behaviour have attacked the theory.

Batson on religionEdit

Batson's most famous contribution to the psychology of religion has been his argument that the traditional distinction, made by Gordon Allport between intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientations, does not exhaust all possible orientations to being religious; rather, he believes it is important to refer to what he calls Quest, a form of being religious where questions are seen as important as answers. This view has been controversial, and critics have questioned whether this Quest really does correlate with any other variable germane to religiosity. He has also written about religious experiences, defending a four-stage model of religious experiences, based upon Graham Wallas' four-stage model of problem-solving in the psychology of creativity.


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