Fowler Theory - Research 6520

Report
Marian A. Ford
EDHE 6520
Dr. Baier – Spring 2009
Biography of Fowler
1940 Developmental psychologist
 Director of the Center for Faith Development and Center for Ethics at
Emory University
 Professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University
 United Methodist minister
 Published author
 Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development
 Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian
 Faith Development and Pastoral care
 Faithful Change
 To See the Kingdom
Why Did He Develop His Theory?
 Believes faith more than religion or belief is most fundamental
category of human quest for relation to transcendence.
 Believes that faith is the primary motivation for individual’s life
 Believes faith is a holistic orientation and is concerned with
individual’s ability to relate to what is universal
 Goal was to chart faith development throughout individual lifespan in
order to characterize common faith stages and transitions that
separate them
Stages of Faith
 Faith is the universal human activity of making meaning and giving
shape to how humans infer and relate to themselves and the world
around them.
 Modeled after Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg’s theories
 Developmental path of person's way of making sense of and relating
to “ultimate” environment
 Used to influence pastoral care, development psychology and
religious education
Theory Used to Evaluate How
Students Change in College
 Cognitive-structural model
 Describes spiritual development and cognitive process
 Concerned with process where student comes to subscribe to
particular beliefs held by them
 Relational nature of beliefs and meaning involves students’
interactions with others and commitment to higher being as origin
which gives students meaning and purpose
 Implications of faith stages can be related to perceptions of members
of out groups and attitudes towards those similar and dissimilar from
them
Seven Stages of Faith
 Pre-stage or primal stage
 Stage Four : Individuate or
 Stage One: Intuitive or
Reflective Faith
 Stage Five: Conjunctive Faith
 Stage Six: Universalizing
Projected Faith
 Stage Two: Mythic or Literal
Faith
 Stage Three: Synthetic or
Conventional Faith
Pre-stage
 Occurs during preverbal year
 Mutual Interaction between infant and primary caregiver
 Provides foundation of faith
Intuitive (Stage 1)
vs. Mythic (Stage 2)
Projective Faith (1)
 Usually children aged 3-7
 Fantasy filled imitative phase
 Children can be influenced by
examples, moods and actions
and stories of related adults.
 First awareness of death and
sex, ability to grasp
experiences
 Transition occurs when there is
concrete operational thinking
and resolution and distinction
between reality and non-reality.
Literal Faith (2)
 Usually school-aged children
 Person tells stories, has beliefs
and makes observations.
 Moral rules, attitudes and literal
interpretations
 Impacted by symbolic and
dramatic materials
 Transition occurs when implicit
clash between stories which
makes child reflect.
Synthetic (Stage 3)
vs. Individuate (Stage 4)
Reflective Faith (4)
Conventional Faith (3)
 Usually arises in adolescence
but could remain permanent
stage in adults
 Experience of world extends
beyond family, school, work
and media; ego is dominant
 Transition occurs when
contradiction between valued
authority exists, encounters
experience to lead to reflection
of values ( i.e.. Leaving home)
 Usually occurs in adolescence




or early adult
Burden of responsibility for own
lifestyle, attitudes and beliefs
Shift from dependence on
others’ spiritual beliefs to
development of own
Restless with outlook and selfimage; existential anxiety sets
Transition occurs when critical
reflection on identity and hears
inner voices
Conjunctive (Stage 5)
vs. Universalizing (Stage 6)
Conjunctive (5)
 Usually occurs in mid-life, if at
all
 Integration into self and outlook
of what was suppressed and
unrecognized in previous stage
 Strives to unify opposites in
mind and experience
 Rise of ironic imagination and
appreciates other’s rituals
because own view is so deep
Universalizing (6)
 Usually occurs in older adults if




at all
Very rare
Search for universal values,
unconditional love and justice
Often referred to as
enlightenment
Examples include Gandhi and
Mother Theresa
Faith Development Interview
(FDI)
 Semi- clinical interview developed by Fowler’s research
 Focuses on significant life experiences and meanings to person
 Optional autobiographical questionnaire (Life Tapestry Exercise) can
be filled out prior to interview (established 1986)
 Sensitivity used by interviewer; lasts 2-3 hours
FDI Measurement Areas
Four broad areas
 General life review
 Review of life-shaping experiences and relationships
 Description of present values and commitments
 Specific questions about religion ( i.e.. Relationship of religion to
morality)
 Certain questions may be in order and form, but structure of
interview and flow based on how previous questions are being
answered
FDI Scoring Measurements
 Scoring made by comparing answers to formal stage descriptions;
specific stage level guidelines for seven stages
 Benchmarks used and Manual for Faith Development Research
 Add scores for each response under each location and divide by
number of response
 Arithmetic average, combined and averaged to yield overall score
 .39 or less round down, .70 or higher round up, between
represents subject in stage transition
Limitations of FDI
 Great amount of time needed to
 Heavy focus on scoring guide
administer interview
 Dependent on clinical
sensitivity and training with
administrators and scorers of
test
 Uncovers cognitive dimensions
of faith rather than affective or
relational
on structural elements of faith
in stage determination
 Computing arithmetic average
flattens out score
 Hard to determine if personality
of person plays a role in
evaluating faith development
measures and theory
Strengths of FDI
 Best validated instrument designed to measure stages
 Encompasses all structural elements Flower proposes
 Includes cognitive and relational affective dimensions of faith
 Could prove that some college students reach stage five prior to
middle age
Theory Has Been Used to Show
Affects of College Students
 Individuals’ perceptions of group membership and individuality
 Primary orientation to social activity and peer-group
 Can use to predict how people in stages view others who are similar
and dissimilar
 Can be important to understand; measure impact upon aspect of
one’s behavior
 Stages help evaluate how students might relate to others most like
them
Positive Aspects of Theory
 Helps evaluate members of in-groups and out groups
 Those in same stages could react differently in some ways from
others in later faith stages
 One’s faith stage can have important impact upon aspects of
student’s behavior
Limitations of Theory
 How does one measure the stages of faith as opposed to different
types of faith?
 How does one determine if students are just attracted to sentiments
in particular stage when not actually living by the ideals?
Questions for future studies
 What is the student’s primary orientation to future family role?
 What is the student’s primary orientation to future professional role?
 How can students seeking their identity help manage their personal
problems, ideology and values?
Other Measurements Used
Faith Styles Scale
 Questionnaire for only adults
 Non open-ended questions
 Not given by trained administrators
Faith Development Scale

Questionnaire with forced choices

Paired item scale usually used with only adults
References
 Conn, Joann (1986).Stages of Faith. Women's Spirituality:
Resources for Christian Development. 226-232.
 Fowler, James W. (1981). Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human
Development and the Quest for Meaning. New York, New York:
Harper & Row.
 Green, Charles (1989).Stages of Faith and Perceptions of Similar
and Dissimilar Others. Review of Religious Research. 30(3), 246254.
 Parker, Stephen (2006).Measuring Faith Development. Journal of
Psychology and Theology. 34(4), 337-348.
References cont.
 Streib, Heinz (2005).Faith Development Research Revisited:
Accounting for Diversity in Structure, Content, and Narrativity of
Faith. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 15(2),
99-121.
 Streib, Heinz (2004).Extending Our Vision of Developmental Growth
and Engaging in Empirical Scrutiny: Proposals for the Future of Faith
Developmental Theory. The Religions Education Association. 99(4),
427-434.

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