Betty M. Bayer, Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow

Professor of Women’s Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY

Project Title:  Revelation or Revolution? Cognitive Dissonance and Persistent Longing in an Age Psychological

My current project entails a monograph-length history of the renowned 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by social psychologists Leon Festinger, Henry Reicken and Stanley Schachter and its place in the longer and larger history of debate amongst religion, psychology, spirituality and science on the soul or psyche. Situated in mid-1950s America, When Prophecy Fails enters the scene amidst cybernetic science, a time of reframing religion to become “newly psychological” (Ellwood, 1997), a shift in psychology toward cognition and away from behaviorism, and the stirrings of new age spirituality.  This book as the theory it introduces was thus poised at a significant crossroads for academic disciplines and everyday life, a moment telling of a much longer and larger struggle between forms of faith and forms of reason; a struggle over the parameters of soul/psyche among psychology, religion, science, and spirituality running as far back as the founding of American psychology.