Design, Methods & Instruments

Hypothetical Model

In this short video presentation we introduce the hypothetical model for the Bielefeld Cross-cultural Study on Spirituality.

Used in the Research on "Spirituality" in Germany and the U.S.A.

One of the unique features of the Bielefeld Cross-cultural Study on Spirituality is the research design, which can be called a "concurrent mixed method design."The research design of the Spirituality Study can be characterized, in terms of Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003), as "concurrent mixed method design," because we have simultaneously collected quantitative and qualitative data. Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (Eds.) (2003). Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Data consist of three different sorts: (a) answers to an online-questionnaire, (b) transcripts of personal interviews and (c) results from an experiment. Analyses therefore follow the model of data triangulation, but also the model of method triangulationDenzin (1970) distinguishes four forms of triangulation: Data triangulation; investigator triangulation; theory triangulation, and method triangulation. Denzin, N. K. (1970). The Research Act. A Theoretical Introduction to to Sociological Methods. Chicago: Aldine.. Triangulation says more than just a mix and mingle of perspectives; but triangulation, it needs to be noted, is revealing difference, may lead to a conflict of interpretations, but therefore allows for more depth in the analysisIt is an illusion that triangulation brings us closer to the one "objective" reality; instead, as Fielding and Fielding (1986, p.33) state, the triangulating of theories and methods should be done "with the intention of adding breadth or depth to our analysis, but not for the purpose of pursuing 'objective' truth". Fielding, N. & Fielding, J. (1986). Linking data: the articulation of qualitative and quantitative methods in social research. Beverly Hills, London: Sage..
With such triangulation design, our research combines nomothetic and idiographic perspectives. The distinction between nomothetic and idiographic approaches has been suggested by the German philosopher W. Windelband (1894) and introduced in the psychology (of religion) by G. Allport (1946)"Psychology in the main has been striving to make of itself a completely nomothetic discipline. ... A psychology of individuality would be essentially idiographic. The dichotomy, however, is too sharp: it requires a psychology divided against itself. As in the case of the two psychologies (the analytical and the descriptive) advocated by Dilthey and Spranger, the division is too drastic. It is more helpful to regard the two methods as overlapping and as contributing to one another. ? (B)iography is clearly idiographic, and yet in the best biographies one finds an artful blend of generalization with individual portraiture. A complete study of the individual will embrace both approaches." (Allport, 1946, p. 22; cf. p. 556) Allport, G. W. (1946). Personality. A Psychological Interpretation. New York: Holt and Comp.. Allport adopted the distinction between nomothetic and idiographic, questioning their incompatibility, in respect to the study of personality as unique field of study. Personality research, he claims, requires the inclusion and primary role of an idiographic approach.


The questionaire, to be filled out online (but also on paper), contained the following items and scales:

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)