Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Kevin L. Ladd

Kevin L. Ladd

  • Media Contact
  • SPN Mentor

I conduct most of my research in the area of the psychology of religion. In particular, I am interested in the topic of prayer.

We are currently working on a three year project funded by the John Templeton Foundation to explore what people tend to think about while praying, how people literally see the world in terms of spiritual importance, what people tend to feel while praying, and how people use their bodies while praying.

In addition to these studies, I also engage in work exploring the interface of science and religion, wisdom, music, ritual, health, coping, prejudice, psychometrics, physiology, neuroimaging, synesthesia, spiritual transformation, character development, personality, clergy and congregational performance/satisfaction, and magic.

Primary Interests:

  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Close Relationships
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Life Satisfaction, Well-Being
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Personality, Individual Differences
  • Research Methods, Assessment
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

Online Studies:


  • Spilka, B., & Ladd, K. L. (2013). The psychology of prayer: A scientific approach. New York: Guilford.

Journal Articles:

  • Ladd, K. L., Ladd, M. L., Ashbaugh, P., Trnka, D., Harner, J., St. Pierre, K., & Swanson, T. (2007). Inward, outward, upward prayer and personal character. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, special section on Positive Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, 18, 209-231.
  • Ladd, K. L., Ladd, M. L., Harner, J., Swanson, T, Metz, T., Haubold, K., & Trnka, D. T. (2007). Inward, outward, and upward prayer: Links to personality (Big Five). Archiv für Religionspsychologie, 49, 151-175.
  • Ladd, K. L., & McIntosh, D. N. (2008). Meaning, God, and prayer: Physical and metaphysical aspects of social support. Mental Health, Religion, and Culture, 11(1), 23-38.
  • Ladd, K. L., McIntosh, D. N., & Spilka, B. (1998). The development of God schemata: The influence of denomination, age, and gender. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 8(1), 49-56.
  • Ladd, K. L., Merluzzi, T. V., & Cooper, D. (2006). Qualitative and quantitative retirement issues for Roman Catholic priests. Review of Religious Research, 48(1), 82-104.
  • Ladd, K. L., & Spilka, B. (2006). Inward, outward, upward prayer: Scale reliability and validation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 45(2), 233-251.
  • Ladd, K. L. & Spilka, B. (2002). Inward, outward, upward: Cognitive aspects of prayer. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(3), 475-484.
  • Ladd, K. L., Spilka, B., & McIntosh, D. N. (2011). Religion and the paranormal: Assessing Freudian hypotheses. INTERAÇÕES - Cultura e Comunidade,6(9), 105-120.
  • Ladd, K. L., Vreugdenhil, S., Ladd, M. L., & Cook, C. (in press). Interpersonal conversations and prayers: Differences of content and attachment functions. Journal of Communication and Religion.
  • Spilka, B., Ladd, K. L., McIntosh, D. N., Milmoe, S., & Bickel, C. O. (1996). The content of religious experiences: The role of expectancy and desirability. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6(2), 95-106.

Other Publications:

  • Ladd, K. L. (2012, March). Thinking about Prayer, Invited lecture, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil.
  • Ladd, K. L. (2012, July). Conceptualizing “prayer” for an East – West dialogue and beyond. Invited presentation at the conference, The Psychology of Religion and China and the US: Methods, Topics, and Collaborative Opportunities, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China.
  • Ladd, K. L. (2011, September). The art of prayer: Reflections on visual representations of faith. Invited lecture at the Land of Tomorrow art gallery, Lexington, KY.
  • Ladd, K. L. (2007, August). Inward, outward, upward prayer: Links to attachment theory. Paper presented as part of a Division 36 symposium including Mario Mikulincer, Phil Shaver, and Pehr Granqvist at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.
  • Ladd, K. L. & Nielsen, M. E. (2011). Psychology of religion. In Miller, R. L., Balcetis, E., Burns, S., Daniel, D., Saville, B., & Woody, W. D., (Eds.). (2011). Promoting Student Engagement, Volume 2: Activities & Demonstrations for Psychology Courses. Syracuse, NY: Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
  • Ladd, M. L., & Ladd, K. L. (2007, September). Measuring faith in motion: Empirical and theological concerns. Paper presented at the International Conference on Spirituality, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Ladd, K. L., & Spilka, B. (in press). The psychology of prayer: A review of the empirical literature. In K. I. Pargament, J. Exline, & J. Jones, APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Ladd, K. L., & Spilka, B. (in press). Psychological facets of ritual: Forms, functions, and practice. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. Park, Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2nd Edition.
  • Ladd, K. L. (2010, May). Prayer and health: A strategy to move beyond ambiguous results. Invited lecture at the 2nd European Conference on Religion, Spirituality, and Health. University of Bern, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.

Courses Taught:

  • Group Dynamics
  • History and Systems
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Motivation and Emotion
  • Personality
  • Psychology of Magic
  • Psychology of Music
  • Psychology of Religion
  • Research Methods
  • Social Psychology
  • Statistics
  • Tests and Measurement

Kevin L. Ladd
Department of Psychology
Indiana University South Bend
1700 Mishawaka Avenue
South Bend, Indiana 46634-7111
United States

  • Phone: (574) 520-5505
  • Fax: (574) 520-4538

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