Ms Alice Herron

PhD Candidate

Qualifications: MA, PGCE

Phone: Work: 01483 68 2910
Room no: 06 AC 04

Further information

Research Interests

Atheism, Mystical and Spiritual Experiences, New Religious Movements, Oral Communication Strategies
When I retired from lecturing in business studies, I took the opportunity to follow my long-time interest in some of the more unusual manifestations of religion and religious belief. I completed an MA in Psychology of Religion from Heythrop College, University of London, in 2007. My Master’s dissertation was on’ Psychological Factors in the Emergence of New Religious Movements.’

When I moved to Guildford in 2011, I decided to take advantage of the University on my doorstep and applied to do a PhD in psychology.

I am currently researching the mystical-type experiences of atheists. Do atheists have similar experiences to religious believers and, if so, what effect, if any, do such experiences have on their beliefs and their sense of identity?  If you would like to take part in this research please use this link:

My PhD supervisor is Dr Adrian Coyle


Herron, A. (2013). Atheists and the Mystical-type Experience, Skeptic Magazine 24:4 26-29


I am currently a visiting lecturer at St Mary’s University Twickenham, where I run the atheism and non-religion module for second year BA Theology students.

I also undertake demonstrating work on the undergraduate psychology programme at the University of Surrey.

I have developed and run a one-day workshop: ‘Manage Your Fear of Speaking in Public’, at University of Surrey.

Before starting my PhD studies in psychology, for several years I lectured in Business Studies, Accounting and Management at various Further Education Colleges, London.

Presentations and Posters


Herron, A., (2014) An exploration of spontaneous, transformative, enlightening and/or mystical-type experiences among atheists: towards a grounded theory: Research Paper, Interpreting experience – experiencing interpretation. Im/possibilities of a hermeneutics of religious experience, St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, April 3 – 6.

Herron, A., (2013) A Grounded Theory Study into the Reported Spontaneous, Transformative, Enlightening and/or Mystical-Type Experiences of Atheists. A literature review presented at PhD Psychology Conference, University of Surrey, 18 April 2013.

Herron, A., (2010) Sex and a Celibate Holy Man: a case study in the use of defense mechanisms to create and preserve an illusion’: Research paper.  Conference for International Society for Cultic Studies, New York, July 1-3

Herron, A., (2010) Mystical experiences in a New Religious Movement: A case study Exploring the Extraordinary Conference, York University, September 24-25

Herron, A., (2009) Too much mother’s love, too little father’s guidance: psychological drivers for new religious movements? Research paper, Maynooth, Ireland, 30-31 October

Herron, A., (2009) Psychological Factors in the Emergence of New Religious Movements: Research paper, Master’s Research Presentations, Heythrop College, University of London, 31 January.

Invited Lectures

‘Do Atheists have Mystical-Type Experiences?’ Sunday Lecture Series, Conway Hall, London WC1 4RL; July 14th 2013.


Context, Content and Meaning of the mystical or transformative experiences of ten British atheists. Poster presentation, Post-Graduate Conference, Surrey University, 2012.

Is Interest in Eastern Meditation Techniques Reflected in Quest Score?: Poster presentation, International Association for the Psychology of Religion Congress, Vienna, August 23-27 2009.


I have won, or been a finalist, in numerous public speaking competitions.

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