Kenneth Vail, Ph.D.

Kenneth Vail, Ph.D., is a professor and psychological scientist at Cleveland State University.

Vail was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. With strong family supports, he spent his youth focused on his studies, playing soccer (goalkeeper), and competing nationally and internationally (Pan-American Games, World Cups, World Championships, etc) on the US national skeet shooting team. After high school (2003), his successes in shooting sports led him to live and train on campus at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. There, he continued to compete internationally, while also completing his Bachelors degree at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) and developing interests in politics, spirituality, philosophy, and psychological science. He retired from sport in early 2008 to pursue those academic interests, obtaining his Master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of Missouri.

Much of his research explores outcomes related to cultural activity (e.g., politics, religion), personal growth, and physical health (e.g., nutrition, carcinogenic behavior) and mental health (e.g., PTSD). He teaches courses in research methods and social psychology, and specialty topics such as existential motivation and psychology of religion. Some of his research findings have been featured in national and international outlets including The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Live Science, TEDx, Telegraph UK, and the Times of India, and he has contributed to notable volumes such as: Science and the World’s Religions; The Psychology of MeaningThe Experience of Meaning in Life: Classical Perspectives, Emerging Themes, and Controversies; Advances in Motivation Science; and the Handbook of Terror Management Theory and Research. His editorial experience includes ad-hoc peer reviewing for various academic journals, he recently guest co-edited the January 2018 special issue of Religion, Brain, and Behavior. Vail is currently co-editing a forthcoming book, to be titled The science of religion, spirituality, and existentialism.

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Tree of Life

The existential side of psychological science. Read now.

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