Psychology and Religion: The Practice of Glossolalia Term Paper by scribbler

Psychology and Religion: The Practice of Glossolalia
An exploration of the faith and psychological explanations for the religious practice of glossolalia.
# 152813 | 1,820 words | 15 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on Apr 30, 2013 in Religion and Theology (General) , Psychology (General)

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The paper discusses glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, as a vocalizing of speech-like syllables as part of religious fervor or practice that is is controversial, even among the religious; some consider it to be meaningless ramble brought on by a euphoric state, while others consider it part of a holy language. The paper addresses two scholarly issues regarding glossolalia: the translation and etymological issues surrounding the Greek word and the set of psychological circumstances that may give rise to the behavior. The paper finds that speaking in tongues appears to be a combination of group-think, a heightened sense of community and uplifting to an altered state, and an extreme passion to belong to something greater than oneself. The paper concludes, however, that one cannot argue faith in a scientific manner and so it is not likely this debate will be soon solved.

Linguistic Analysis
Psychological Functions of Glossolalia

From the Paper:

"The material, or psycho-social explanation for glossolalia is that it is a learned behavior - an accepted part of a specific culture in which being able to do so is looked upon as a positive trait. One experiment showd that it was possible to teach a population glossolaic speech, 20 percent after only a 60-second hearing, and up to 70 percent after training (Spanos, Cross, Lepage and Coristine 1986). Even in Christian scenarios, the influence of a particularly charismatic leader or member of the group was shown to cause a group of the congregation to speak in a similar manner (The Charismatic Movement and Lutheran Theology, 1972; (Newberg, Wintering, Morgan and Waldman, 2006).
"Glossolalia is not limited to the Judeo-Christian tradition. There are robust examples of its use in Haitian Voodoo, Santeria, occult practices globally and even in jazz music (scat). Most anthropologists find that it tends to have a more communicative and spiritual meaning (Samarin, p.149). However, in almost every case, it signals the transition into a heightened psychological state. Much like an initiation rite, it indicates that the individual is allowing a greater power into their psyche. The evidence also shows that the person speaking in tongues appears to derive pleasure from it - and becomes proficient in this new skill which allows a greater expression of emotion and feeling."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • The Charismatic Movement and Lutheran Theology. (1972). Retrieved September 2010, from
  • De Rosen, L. (2010). Music and Religion. Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, 13(1), 588-91.
  • Goodman, F. (1969). Phonetic Analysis of Glossolalia in Four Cultural Settings. Jounral for the Scientific Study of Religion, 8(2), 227-39.
  • Hafley, L. (2004). Modern Day Snake Handling. Retrieved September 2010, from
  • Hine, V. (1969). Pentecostal Glossolalia Toward a Functional Interpretation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 8(2), 211-26.

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Psychology and Religion: The Practice of Glossolalia (2013, April 30) Retrieved December 02, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Psychology and Religion: The Practice of Glossolalia" 30 April 2013. Web. 02 December. 2021. <>