Northwestern emeritus professor of psychology to speak at international conference

Dr. Laird Edman, professor emeritus of psychology Dr. Laird Edman, professor emeritus of psychology at Northwestern College, has been invited to serve as a keynote speaker for the first International Psychology Conference hosted by Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan.

Scheduled for May 30 and 31, the conference has as its theme “Innovative, Ethical and Futuristic Practices in Psychology.”

Edman will deliver his address, titled “The Time of Our Lives: The Psychological Necessity of Ritual,” via Zoom. A question-and-answer session will follow his presentation.

According to Edman, rituals are found in every culture throughout known human history. Examining their purpose from a cognitive science perspective enables scholars to better understand why humans expend resources on activities that appear to be unrelated to the fundamental problems of survival.

“Religious rituals, in particular, serve important psychological purposes for participants and the communities that practice them,” Edman says. “They play a role in social bonding, connection and emotion regulation.”

Because rituals enhance a sense of control, they are essential for many people in times of stress and trouble. “Religious rituals increase during times of distress,” Edman explains, “and are one of the primary ways we are able to create meaning and find comfort in the midst of trauma.”

Earlier this year, Edman was one of three scholars of religion invited to present at the One World Festival held annually at the Ashmolean, the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology in Oxford, England. His talk was titled, “Why Are We Doing This? The Central Role of Ritual in Our Lives.”

Edman was sponsored for the Oxford presentation by the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. His research is supported by a Templeton Religion Trust grant.

Study psychology at Northwestern

Northwestern's psychology program will further your understanding of what it means to be a self-conscious human and how we learn, develop and relate to others. With ample opportunities for research and faculty collaboration, our psychology students feel well prepared for graduate school. You'll study with Northwestern's accomplished psychology faculty, all of whom hold doctorate degrees in a variety of specializations. Their scholarship has been presented at international conferences, and made one professor eligible to become a Fulbright Scholar.