The specific aim of the study is to explore the cognitive and emotional phenomena which accompany profound changes of perspective that people have. I would like to understand the change in a person’s thinking and in what way the person experiences these changes, whether it is a change in belief or a worldview. I would also like to understand whether external factors such as that facilitate these profound changes. Using a phenomenological approach, I interviewed eight adult participants in depth regarding changes to their worldview. I examined three phases of change, namely pre-change phase, the change phase, and the post-change phase. The themes I identify and describe include: emotional comfort and quiescence, and the precipitating event in the pre-change phase; vacillation and emotional discomfort in the change phase; and a return to psychological comfort and resilience in the post-change phase. I discuss these changes using Terror Management Theory (TMT), the Meaning Making Model (MMM), and Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions as useful lenses through which one can view these individual changes.


worldview, change, qualitative research

Author Bio(s)

Austin C. Archer, Ph.D., is a professor of Psychology and Education at Walla Walla University. He has research interests in memory and cognitive change. He currently teaches classes in cognitive psychology, biological psychology and research methods at the undergraduate level, and learning theory and quantitative and qualitative research methods at the graduate level. Please direct correspondence to austin.archer@wallawalla.edu.


This research was supported in part by a Walla Walla University Faculty Development grant.

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