Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Psychology of Religion in China

  • Alvin DueckEmail author
  • Buxin Han
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9351

Psychological reflections on spirituality and religion in China have a 2,500-year history, and the scientific study thereof over the past century has both languished during the Cultural Revolution and flourished in the last three decades (Dueck and Han 2012). However, religions as we know them in the West as institutionalized with a professional clergy, set of doctrines, and specified practices is a mere century old (Yang 2008). The official religions include Taoism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Islam, but there are a host of folk religions and variations of the five sanctioned religions among China’s 55 ethnic minorities. Recent research by Tong and Liu (2005) indicates that there are some 300 million Chinese who identify themselves as religious/spiritual, the highest estimate to be published to date.

As a science, Chinese psychology emerged concurrently with American psychology (Han and Zhang 2007). Yuanpei Cai, who studied with Wilhelm Wundt (1908–1911), returned to...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Belzen, J. A. (2009). Towards cultural psychology of religion: Principles, approaches, applications. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Chen, B. (2003). Erikson’s thoughts on religious psychology and its contribution. Studies in World Religions, 24(4), 93–102. CNKI:ISSN:1000-4289.0.2003-04-011.Google Scholar
  3. Chen, B. (2012). Coping with death and loss: Confucian perspectives and the use of rituals. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 1037–1049.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0476-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen, Y., & Chen, X. (2012). Methodological issues in psychology of religion research in the Chinese context. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 671–683.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0441-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, Y., Liang, H., & Lu, L. (2006). PERSPECTIVE: Psychology of religion in China. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 16, 153–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, Y., Wang, J., Weng, H., & Wang, X. (2012). History, present situation, and problems of Chinese psychology of religion. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 641–654.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-011-0399-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dueck, A., & Han, B. (2012). Psychology of religion in China. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 605–622.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0488-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Han, B., & Dueck, A. (forthcoming). Chinese psychology of religion. Beijing: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.Google Scholar
  9. Han, B., & Zhang, K. (2007). Psychology in China. The Psychologist, 20(12), 734–736.Google Scholar
  10. He, Q. (2012). Religious traditions in local communities of China. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 823–839.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0438-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Liang, L. P. (2003). The investigation and analysis regarding religious identity. Studies in World Religions, 25(3), 34–44. CNKI: ISSN:1000-4289.0.2003-03-006.Google Scholar
  12. Liang, H. (2012a). Jung and Chinese religions: Buddhism and Taoism. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 747–758.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0442-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liang, L. P. (2012b). Multiple variations: Perspectives on the religious psychology of Buddhist and Christian converts in the People’s Republic of China. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 865–877.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0462-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lu, L., & Ke, J. (2012). A concise history of Chinese psychology of religion. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 623–639.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-011-0395-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nelson, J. (2009). Psychology, religion, and spirituality. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ren, Z. (2012). Spirituality and community in times of crisis: Encountering spirituality in indigenous trauma therapy. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 975–991.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0440-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shi, L., & Zhang, C. (2012). Spirituality in traditional Chinese medicine. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 959–974.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0480-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Song, X., & Fu, L. (2012). The study of college students’ beliefs in China. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 923–940.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0446-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ting, R. (2012). The worldviews of healing traditions in the East and West: Implications for psychology of religion. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 759–782.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0439-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ting, R., & Ng, A. (2012). Use of religious resources in psychotherapy from a tradition-sensitive approach: Cases from Chinese in Malaysia. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 941–957.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-011-0365-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tong, S. J., & Liu. Z. Y. (2005). Reported by Wu Jiao. Religious believers thrice the estimate. China Daily, East China Normal University, 2007-01-07.Google Scholar
  22. Wang, X. (2012). On becoming a religious therapist in Chinese culture. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 1007–1024.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0430-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wang, X., Wang, T., & Han, B. (2012). The mental health of older Buddhists after the Wenchuan earthquake. Pastoral Psychology, 61(5/6), 841–850.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-011-0402-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yang, M. M. H. (2008). Chinese religiosities: Afflictions of modernity and state formation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of PsychologyFuller Theological SeminaryPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina