Spirituality in Germany and U.S.A.

Analysis of the Semantics, Psychological and Sociological Correlates and Biographical Contexts of a Self-Attribution

Being "spiritual" has become increasingly popular in the last 30 years. Many in the U.S.A. self-identify as "spiritual" or even as "spiritual, but not religious." In many European countries, we see a similar pattern even if on lower frequency levels. Are we witnessing a "spiritual turn" or a "spiritual revolution"? Despite the popularity of being "spiritual," it is not clear however what "spirituality" really means. Survey results portrait the frequencies of religious, spiritual and secular orientations, but fall short in information about the semantics, about the functional characteristics and psychological correlates, and about the biographical contexts of these contemporary orientations. Results from our research answer at least some of these questions.

Heinz Streib (project leader), Ralph Hood (supervisor of research in the U.S.), Barbara Keller and Christopher Silver (PIs in Bielefeld and Chattanooga) recently completed the Cross-cultural Study on "Spirituality" funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation)

Based on questionnaire data from respondents in Germany (N=773) and the U.S.A. (N=1113), the aim of this project has been the differential cross-cultural study of "spirituality." Analyses focus on

  1. the semantics of "spirituality" in subjective definitions (free entries in the questionnaire), semantic differentials and results from an (IAT) experiment;
  2. on the investigation of psychological correlates such as personality traits, attachment, psychological well-being, religious schemata, and pro-social attitudes and
  3. on the biographical context by means of (faith development) interviews with selected sub-samples in the U.S. (N=54) and Germany (N=48).

The qualitative approach opens a diachronic perspective on the interaction of cultural and individual developmental trajectories.

At this point, we would like to thank all those who have made our research possible in the first place: the people who participated in our survey. A very special thank you goes out to those who furthermore consented to conduct a Faith Development Interview with us. We are humble and grateful that you were willing to share your opinions with us and to grant us insight into your worldview.

568 Seitenaufrufe seit dem 06.11.2015, 18:00 Uhr

Publications / Articles


Streib, H. & Hood, R. W. (Eds.) (2016). Semantics and Psychology of "Spirituality". A Cross-cultural Analysis. Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


Streib, H. & Keller, B. (2015). Was bedeutet Spiritualität? Befunde, Analysen und Fallstudien aus Deutschland. Research in Contemporary Religion (RCR) - Band 20, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Keller, B. & Streib, H. (2013) Faith Development, Religious Styles and Biographical Narratives: Methodological Perspectives. Journal of Empirical Theology 26, 1-21.

Keller, Barbara, Klein, Constantin, Anne, Swhajor, Christopher F., Silver, Ralph W., Hood, and Streib, Heinz. "The Semantics of 'Spirituality' and Related Self-identifications: A Comparative Study in Germany and the USA". Archive for the Psychology of Religion. (PDF)

Streib, Heinz & Hood, Ralph W. (2011). “"Spirituality" as Privatized Experience-Oriented Religion: Empirical and Conceptual Perspectives”. Implicit Religion 14.4: 433 - 453. (PDF)

Streib, H. (2008). More Spiritual than Religious: Changes in the Religious Field Require New Approaches (PDF)