Implicit Religion as Commitment Process
Insights from Brickman and Bailey
Keywords:commitment, Philip Brickman, Edward Bailey, cognitive dissonance theory
The concept of implicit religion is closely associated with the idea of commitment, so it would seem useful for students of implicit religion to examine what is known about personal commitment from social psychological studies. This article does so by focusing on what is arguably the major social psychological theory of commitment, Philip Brickman’s Commitment, Conflict, and Caring (1987), which derives fundamental processes and patterns describing the development, maintenance, and dissolution of commitments from cognitive dissonance theory. The article concludes that the Brickman theory offers important supplemental insight into the formative processes of everyday transcendence or implicit religion. At the same time Edward Bailey’s empirical findings in implicit religion challenge and illuminate Brickman’s theory with respect to Bailey’s central discovery of a deep commitment to humanity, including a commitment to the self, within contemporary implicit religion. The author also notes several practical and ethical implications of his analysis.