University of Connecticut sociologist Brad Wright wants to experiment on your soul. Or at least measure it.
You may have seen his cover story in Christianity Today last summer about an experiment he ran on whether churches are biased in welcoming ethnic and racial minorities. Or his article a year earlier on whether employers discriminate against religious job applicants. Or his 2011 piece on whether Americans dislike evangelicals.
Since 2012, Wright has been working on SoulPulse, an iPhone app that surveys its users about their activities and spiritual experiences. “We’re trying to figure out how religion and spirituality operate in the contours of everyday life, as it’s experienced,” he said. “In a laboratory it’s hard to replicate everyday life.” Traditional telephone surveys can result in unnatural responses, too. But the rise of fitness trackers on our wrists and smartphones has made us more open to micro-surveys and check-ins—and more hungry for data about ourselves.
The Behemoth interviewed Wright after his SoulPulse team issued its first report on daily fluctuations in spirituality.
Measuring spiritual fluctuations sounds tricky. What is it you’re actually tracking?
We have different approaches to get at “God engagement.” The question we ask users the most is simply to rate their agreement with the statement “I’m aware of God at this moment.” A score of 1 is “not much” and a score of 100 is “very much.” We ask that every single survey, and it’s what we focus on in this first report.
We’ve also used a number of other measurements. On SoulPulse, you always get “I’m aware of ...
Please log in or subscribe to continue reading
Christianity Today subscribers can log in below for full access. Not a subscriber? Subscribe and get complete access to The Behemoth and Christianity Today.
- Editor's Note from January 21, 2016
Issue 40: The best worst solar storm, hurricanes’ gifts, and a “spiritual Fitbit.” /
- The Week the Sun Reached Out and Touched Us
The Carrington Flare happened at the last moment humanity could collectively appreciate it. /
- Why I Thank God for Hurricanes
The natural disasters don’t simply destroy life. They make the world a better place. /
“Timing’s everything.” /
- Wonder on the Web
Issue 40: Links to amazing stuff.
Unlock This Article for a Friend
To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.