Inside the Mormon Mind by Elizabeth T. Tice
While not being as much as I had hoped for based on the title and the introduction, Inside the Mormon Mind: The Social Psychology of Mormonism will be a useful introduction to Mormonism and the Mormon mentality for those who want a quick course on the subject. This book can literally be read in just a few hours.
Inside the Mormon Mind is similar, in several ways, to The Pattern of The Double-Bind in Mormonism. It includes more details on what Mormons believe however. Unfortunately, it has numerous typos and several statements regarding Mormon doctrine which aren’t entirely correct. Some of the references are wrong or they are based on a second, rather than first, hand source. An editor, well versed in Mormon history and doctrine, could have made this a much more accurate and readable work. Overall, though, it is more objective and less biased than the bulk of pro and anti works out there.
For Tice’s Ph.D. she interviewed numerous active, believing, temple Mormons. Based on how they answered questions and responded to potentially troubling aspects of church doctrine and history she divided them into two groups–MDFers (Mormon Doctrine Focus) and PSEFers (Personal/Social Experience Focus). The PSEFers don’t know Mormon doctrine particularly well, nor do they really care. They probably haven’t even made it through all the scriptures. They are far more into the community and emotionalism that the church offers. Tice, like I, was a MDFer. MDFers are far more likely, compared to PSEFers, to leave the church once they discover the truth behind the revisionist history and doctrine they have been feed since birth (or conversion) rather than opt for an answer like “God’s ways are not man’s ways” or “it is the Spirit that matters and I don’t worry about those things” or “we will find that out in the next life.” I was about as extreme an MDFer as there ever was. The PSE in Mormonism was always a necessary evil for me. I think the church is moving in the PSE direction over time and will continue to do so to keep members from graduating (leaving). Tice recounts how temple Mormons deal with disturbing new facts, delving into the subject of cognitive dissonance. Whereas impartial observers (including Mormons when it comes to anomalies in other religions) will come to a rational answer when they hear about things such as Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham “translation,” believing Mormons will usually defend Joseph Smith’s claims to the death (and sometimes even become more firm believers based on their rationalizations of erroneous items!).
If you enjoyed Deborah Laake’s book, but wanted something with a little more meat (from someone mentally stable), then this is for you. Things could have been meatier. The latter half of the book that deals with the title should have been beefed up and expanded; a lot more could of, and should have, been said on the subject. There are other books on the subject, not directly related to Mormonism, out there. You may also want to read The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements and/or The Mind of the Bible Believer.
from the author:
[I wrote a] dissertation entitled “Cognitive Dissonance and Commitment in Contemporary Mormonism.” It is 200 pages and research focused. I completed that in 1999. In February 2001, Pearson published my book entitled Inside the Mormon Mind: The Social Psychology of Mormonism. This is an 80 page, reader-friendly version of what is in the dissertation–minus all the academic stuff. It is more personal and a better read, and has done quite well on Amazon.com.
Neither the book nor the dissertation fall into the Pro- or the Anti- category. I have tried to present factual information so that Non-Mormons can gain a better understanding of the Mormon psyche.
Elizabeth T. Tice offers a unique perspective on Mormonism from both the inside and the outside of the culture. Ms. Tice spent 30 years as an active Mormon (including an 18 month mission to Northern Peru, two degrees from BYU, and a temple marriage). Ms. Tice holds a BS, an M.Ed, and a PH.D. She is the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Phoenix.