News about the RMP by Professor Steven Reiss

The 16 Strivings for God: The New Psychology of Religious Experiences. This ground-breaking work will change the way we understand religion. Period. Previous scholars such as Freud, James, Durkheim, and Maslow did not successfully identify the essence of religion as fear of death, mysticism, sacredness, communal bonding, magic, or peak experiences because religion has no single essence. Religion is about the values motivated by the 16 basic desires of human nature. It has mass appeal because it accommodates the values of people with opposite personality traits. Reiss proposes a peer-reviewed, original theory of mysticism, asceticism, spiritual personality, and hundreds of religious beliefs and practices. Further, it is the first comprehensive theory of the psychology of religion that can be scientifically verified. Written for serious readers and anyone interested in psychology and religion (especially their own), this eminently readable book will revolutionize the psychology of religious experience by exploring the motivations and characteristics of the individual in his or her religious life.


Steven Reiss has developed a comprehensive theory of religion that illuminates why it is that religion is such a pervasive cultural force. Rather than impose unwarranted assumptions that either applaud or condemn religion, Reiss shows how his empirically grounded theory reveals that values that define religion are rooted in 16 basic desires that all humans have.
Ralph W. Hood Jr., Ph.D., Former Editor, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Reiss's response to those who see religion as stemming from the fear of death is very powerful and a major contribution of the book in itself.
Andrew McKinnon, University of Aberdeen

Steven Reiss is a profound thinker and a deeply compassionate person. Those qualities come together in this book as he probes one of the most difficult questions of all time—what are our basic human needs and how do religion and spirituality fulfill those needs? His answers will captivate and enlighten you.
Carol Dweck, Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Professor Reiss has written an extremely interesting, creative and original book presenting a new theory about religion and the religious life.
Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Available October 1, 2015 from Mercer University Press (

The book also can be ordered through Amazon ( or Barnes & Noble (