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A Naturalistic Inquiry into the Existence of Cognitive Fixation in Protestant Pastoral Decision-Making
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This qualitative study examined cognitive fixation in protestant pastoral decision-making. The participants included ten Protestant pastors from different churches in Texas. Through naturalistic inquiry, data were obtained from face-to-face interviews and observations. A constant comparative method and thematic analysis were used to analyze the data for emergent themes. The first theme revealed a more complex reality than had been suggested previously in the literature. Cognitive fixation was seen to take place in interactions amongst pastors, church structures and traditions, lay leaders and congregations. Key elements influencing pastoral cognitive fixation were the church’s decision-making structure, lay leaders’ thinking, and congregational traditions. The second theme suggested that cognitive fixation plays a role in how pastors perceive challenges. The third theme illustrated how special circumstances may have helped many pastors overcome cognitive fixation. Future research should include a comparison of mainline denominational practices to the approach of non-denominational churches, as well as case study approaches allowing investigation of interactions among pastors, lay leaders, and members during the actual decision-making process.
Ramos Garcimartin, Hector (2015). A Naturalistic Inquiry into the Existence of Cognitive Fixation in Protestant Pastoral Decision-Making. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from