Religion, Experience, and Mind (REM) Lab


The Lab Group is composed of faculty, graduate students, visiting researchers, and associated researchers including graduates and former post-docs. The general aim of the REM Lab is to assist in the development of individual and collaborative research projects, including papers, dissertations, and grant proposals, that seek to understand the interaction of religion, experience, and mind across traditions and cultures.  Meetings are usually devoted to graduate student presentations on research in progress and occasionally to outside speakers of interest to the group.
REM Graphic Banner of Devotional Practices


The Inventory Project

Since its inception the Lab Group has been interested in developing methods for studying unusual experiences that may be appraised in different ways (e.g., as religious, pathological, or paranormal) across cultures, traditions, and historical time periods.

What Counts as Religious Experience?

We know that people all over the world have experiences that stand out for them, but do the same experiences stand out in all cultures? Or are people in other cultures watching out for experiences you would never think to notice?  And of the experiences that stand out for people, what do they make of them? We have designed the Inventory of Non-Ordinary Experiences (INOE) to help us answer these questions by asking people in the US and India, first, what they have experienced, and, then, what they think caused it, whether they thought it was religious or spiritual, and how did it affected their life.

The Inventory Team

  • Ann Taves, Professor of Religious Studies, Project Leader, co-author (with Kinsella and Barlev) of the Inventory of Nonordinary Experiences (INOE)
  • Michael Kinsella, UCSB PhD 2017; Assistant Professor, Central Michigan University, co-author of INOE, ethnographer, specializing in American Religion
  • Michael Barlev, UCSB PhD 2017; Post-doctoral Researcher in Social Psychology, Arizona State University, co-author of INOE, specializing in cognitive science of religion
  • Elliott Ihm, UCSB graduate student (Psych & Brain Sciences), specializing in cognitive social psychology (under J. Schooler), Project Manager
  • Melissa Gordon, UCSB graduate student (Education), specializing in quantitative research methods (under A. Maul)
  • Maharshi Vyas, UCSB graduate student (Religious Studies), specializing in South Asian Religions (under W. Ellison)
  • Jed Forman, UCSB graduate student (Religious Studies), specializing in Tibetan Buddhism (under J. Cabezon), India fieldwork coordinator
 REM Lab Team