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Elpine de Boer

University Lecturer Psychology of Religion

Dr. E.M. de Boer
+31 71 527 2562

Elpine de Boer is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion.

More information about Elpine de Boer

Focus of interest

People everywhere in the world have been and are still fascinated by issues that they cannot really understand. For instance, the simple fact that you exist and that you’re are going to die, the loss of loved ones, isolation, powers and forces (such as in nature), evil, beauty, love.

I have become fascinated by people’s belief in  another reality, a reality in which people often succeed in making sense of these issues. This other reality – which is usually an unseen reality by others – may involve the belief in a higher power (e.g,, God, higher spirit) or the belief in an ideal world (values, virtues) and often has a large impact on people’s life, decisions and functioning.

My field: Psychology of Religion

My main focus is studying religiosity and spirituality from a  psychological perspective. This implies that I am not studying prescribed religious beliefs, rituals, habits. I am also not interested in truth claims of the existence or non-existence of deity or a higher power.

Instead I focus particularly on people’s  inner experiences, their (un)felt relationship with the divine, other or higher spirits, their  personal beliefs/ convictions about self and the world and on possible psychological functions and explanations of (ir)religiosity. As a psychologist I am also interested in relationships between religiosity and mental and physical health.

The field of psychology of religion is in transition. First, because of changes in the European religious landscape (e.g., secularization processes, multiculturalism). Second, because many researchers from the Middle east and Asia are now joining the still dominant group of European and north American researchers. So context (place, time) and frame of reference (culture, individual sense-making) become increasingly important in the field.

Expertise and Current themes

I am particularly specialized and involved in the three following themes:
1) The mutual interdependence of mental/religious dimensions (culture, values, virtues) on the one hand and psychological/physical dimensions (perceived health, stress, distress, physical vulnerability and illness) on the other hand 2) The belief in and impact of openness to another(s) reality: how? when? why (not)? who? What is the relationship with culture, mental health? 3) A possible changing role of religiosity in current societies: religious identity/self-identification, changing belief profiles or religious/psychological needs

Research Methods

Since  psychology is an empirical study, I try to gain knowledge by collecting new data: direct or indirect observation of experience. I combine  quantitative (the use of questionnaires to measure psychological concepts & statistical analysis) and  qualitative (interviews or open-ended questions using the subject’s  own knowledge, feelings, contexts) research methods and analysis.

Education and Employment


  • PhD in Psychology, University of Utrecht (2003)
  • MA in Psychology (  cum laude), University of Amsterdam (1995)


  • Project manager (0,6 fte) Research & development Institute Work & Stress, Bilthoven 2001-2003
  • Teaching (0,5 fte) Methodology Social Scientific Research & Psychology of Religion, Leiden University (2004- 2007)
  • Lecturer (0,8fte) Psychology of Religion, Leiden University (2007 till now)


Publications Religiosity & Spirituality (selection)

De Boer, E.M. (2006).  Je bent jong en je wilt anders. 245 jongeren over wat hen bezighoudt en inspireert. Met een handreiking voor gemeente en parochie door Hannie van der Boog- Piels. Uitgeverij Kok Kampen. ISBN: 90 435 1260 5.

De Boer, E.M. & Sara de Roos (2009) Onderzoeksrapport ‘Student en Zingeving’. Bureau Mooizo & Leidse Studenten Ekklesia. Universiteit Leiden.

Gerding, H. & De Boer, Elpine M. (2012).  Ervaringen van uittreden. Een steekproef in Nederland. TVP. Tijdschrift voor parapsychologie & bewustzijnsonderzoek, nr 2, 5-7.

De Boer, E. & Kooijman, A. (2014  ). Onderzoek naar veerkracht en spiritualiteit bij ‘kwetsbare ouderen’. In Sjaak Körver (eds) : In het oog in het hart. Geestelijke verzorging 2.1’. Valkhof Pers. ISBN 978 90 5625 410 0

Publications ‘Mutual interdependence of mental/religious dimensions (culture, values, virtues) and psychological/physical (stress, health) dimensions (selection)

De Boer, E.M. (2003).  Organizational fairness, well-being and sickness absenteeism. It’s all about the manner in which…’. Dissertation Universiteit Utrecht, ISBN 90-393-3580-X.

Bakker, A.B., Demerouti, E., De Boer E., Wilmar B. Schaufeli (2003). Job demands and job resources as predictors of absence duration and frequency.  Journal of Vocational Behavior, volume 62, Issue 2, April 2003, 341- 356.

De Boer, E.M., Bakker, A.B., Syroit, J.E., & Schaufeli, W.B. (2002). Unfairness at work as a predictor of Absenteeism.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 181-197.

De Boer, E.M. (1996). Organisatiecultuur en het welzijn van oudere werknemers. In: Krijnen-Stellingen, M.A. & Schabracq, M.J. Utrecht: Lemma.

Presented Papers/Lectures/Workshops (selection)

Paper Presentation. De Boer, Elpine .M. ‘Making sense of an out-of-body experience (OBE), spirituality and mental health’. Congress of the (IAPR, Lausanne, Switzerland: August 2013).

Paper presentation. De Boer, Elpine .M. & Joël Vos. Dual attitudes in life: An explorative study on how Dutch students combine their social traditional religion & spirituality with a critical open mind. Bari, Italy. Congress of the (IAPR, Bari, Italy: August 2011).

Pre-conference lecture. De Boer, E.M. ‘De god helm, en andere verhalen over religie en ons brein  ’. International Conference on Psychology of Religion (UVA, 27 & 28 april 2010).

Paper presentation. De Boer, E.M. (2009). Being open and susceptible to (an)other(s) reality and truth: religious orientation, personality and mental health. Congress of the (IAPR).

Presentatie onderzoeksrapport. De Boer E.M. & Sara de Roos. Symposium ‘Student en Zingeving’. Bureau Mooizo & Leidse Studenten Ekklesia. Universiteit Leiden, 2009.

De Boer, Elpine M. & Kooijman, A. Presentatie over onderzoeksopzet ‘De mentale en spirituele arbeid die oudere patienten verrichten tijdens het hersteltraject na een medische ingreep’. Expertmeeting over ‘Onderzoek rond spiritualiteit in de gezondheidszorg’, 27 april 2011, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

Kooijman, A. & De Boer, Elpine M. Workshop over veranderingen in de geestelijke verzorging in de ouderenzorg. tijdens conferentie over theologische beroepen in verzakelijkte organisaties getiteld: ‘Voorbij de onteigening’, Windesheim, Zwolle, 11 april 2014.

Current research projects and (submitted) manuscripts (Work-in-progress)

Joel Vos & Elpine de Boer. Walking on a religious-spiritual tightrope: a quantitative study on balancing between critical-openness, and social-traditional religiosity and spirituality

Elpine de Boer & Henk de Roest. Bonding during the ‘long night of the churches’ (‘LANGE NACHT DER KIRCHEN’) Converging and differing experiences of churchgoers and non-churchgoer

Elpine de Boer & Hans Gerding . Encounters with the dead: a semi-structured qualitative study on meaning and connectedness

Elpine de Boer & Barbara van der Vlugt & Hans Gerding. Hulp na uittredingservaringen: Motieven voor Reguliere en Alternatieve consultatie (  submitted).


Courses/Course development


(2005-2011) Introduction to the social scientific approach of religion
(2007 till now) Psychology of Religion
(2004 till now) Quantitative research (survey study)
(2004-2007) Qualitative research (in-depth interviews)

Ba electives

(2007 – 2011) Classics in Psychology of Religion e.g., James, Freud
(2006 – 2011) The multireligious context of spiritual caregiving


(2007 till now) Psychology of Religion



  • Noah Millman “Religious Jewish Identity in a Secular Society”, empirical research. Promotor: emeritus Prof M.B. ter Borg & prof. A.F.J. de Jong (planning: 2015)

MA (selection)

  • Magdalena Boehm (2014). Muslims in Athens: Religion in times of marginalization. How does religious participation at informal places of worship relate to Muslim religious identification and psychological adjustment among immigrants in Athens
  • Hendrieke Kouwenhoven (2011). Enchanted medicine. The mutual interdependence of physical and spiritual underpinnings of healing in Northern Ghana. Other supervisor: Prof Dr Heleen Murre
  • Lizette Romijn (2011) Exploring the Edges: Exceptional Human Experiences in the light of Schizotypal Personality Characteristics and Spiritual Practice. Other Supervisor: Dr. B. Verkuil (Psychology)
  • Sara Tariq-de Roos (2011) The Influence of the Dutch Society on Religious Change. A case study among Pakistani international students and their spouses.
  • Marije Verkerk (2010) ‘Religion in Contemporary Society’. Defining the Self: Religious Narratives. How media narrate the Dutch religious identity.
  • Lydia Vallez (2010). William Wordsworth (1770-1850). The genesis of his poetic genius. Specialness as a primary mode of death transcendence.
  • Dave Prins (2010) The role of religion and ritual in community rebuilding post-natural disaster. Other supervisor: Meerten ter Borg

BA (selection)

  • Meike Jacobs (2014). Religie en zelfmoord. De invloed van het hindoeïsme of zelfmoord onder hindoestanen. Other supervisor: Prof. Ab de Jong
  • Sandra van der Lee (2013) Spirituality at Work. Relationships between spirituality, employees and organizations- AnneMarie Wilschut (2012) Geloof beleven! Beschrijving van een kwalitatief onderzoek naar de religieuze beleving van mensen met autisme. Other supervisor: Wim Hofstee
  • Diana Gladkova (2008). Retraite: motieven, beeld, verwachtingen, vraag en aanbod.
  • Arend Bosscha (2012) Christelijke spiritualiteit en de psyche. Onderzoek naar de verhouding tussen godsdienstpsychologie en spiritualiteit. Other supervisor: Rico Sneller.
  • Sjoerd van de Vijver (2008). Beeldvorming en de interreligieuze dialoog in Leiden.
  • Linda Rooijmans (2008). De overdracht van seksuele waarden en normen door religieuze ouders aan hun kinderen.


  • ism Diaconessenhuis (Dr. A. Kooijman) Leiden  subsidie Delta Lloyd Fonds ‘Onderzoek naar veerkracht en spiritualiteit onder ‘kwetsbare ouderen’ (2012)
  • Onderzoek naar ‘Kerkennacht’ ism Prof de Roest  subsidie Raad van Kerken (2011)
  • Onderzoek Student en Zingeving ism Bureau Mooizo  subsidie Studenten Ekklesia Leiden (2010)
  • Onderzoek onderen jongeren die ingeschreven staan bij de PKN of RKK in Leiden en Voorschoten  subsidie plaatselijke gemeentes en parochies (2005)

Administration and service to the profession

Member study programme committee (2008-2010)
Chair study programme committee (2010-2011)
Member examining board (2013 till now)

University Lecturer Psychology of Religion

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • LUCSoR



  • No relevant ancillary activities
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