Religious Styles and Schemata: Faith Development Theory & Research Revisited
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Religiöse Entwicklung, religiöse Schemata und Stile, und inter-religiöse Vorurteile

A presentation at the 48th "Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie" on September 24th 2012 (in German)



Streib, Heinz, and Klein, Constantin. “Religious Styles Predict Interreligious Prejudice: A Study of German Adolescents with the Religious Schema Scale”. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 24.2 (2014): 151–163.

Streib, H., Hood, R.W., & Klein, C. (2010). The Religious Schema Scale: Construction and Initial Validation of a Quantitative Measure for Religious Styles. In The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 20(3): 151-172 [pdf]

Streib, H. (2005). Faith Development Research Revisited: Accounting for Diversity in Structure, Content, and Narrativity of Faith" [pdf])

Fowler, J.W., Streib, H., & Keller, B. (2004). Manual for Faith Development Research [pdf]

Streib, H. (2003). Variety and complexity of religious development: perspectives for the 21st century [pdf]

Streib, H. (2002). Faith Development at Twenty Years [pdf]

Streib, H. (2001). Faith Development Theory Revisited [pdf]

New Research Project:

Longitudinal Investigation of Developmental Change in Religiosity in Germany and the USA

 Religious development is being studied for the first time using the faith development interview in cross-cultural and longitudinal research. Research teams at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and Bielefeld University (Germany) cooperate in re-interviewing the same persons with the faith development interview. Read more...

Religious Styles and Schemata: Faith Development Theory & Research Revisited

Research interest on religious styles and schemata originates in H. Streib's theoretical and methodological work in James W. Fowler's (1981; 1996) faith development theory and research. The discussion and revision of the theoretical framework of faith development theory has resulted in a model of religious styles which can be researched as religious schemata. This explicates the model of religious development in terms of the psychology of religion. Documentation and evaluation of research in religious development in past and present is a second part of this research interest. A third part is the discussion of methodological issues, including a constant revision of the classical research procedure with the faith development interview and also the construction and validation of qunatiative instruments for the assessment of religious styles and schemata.

Theory Revision

Cognitive-developmental theories - and Fowler's faith development theory clearly stands in this tradition - are challenged whether their primary attention to cognitive structures results in blind spots in regard to content, emotion, function, life-history and life-world, whether their strict focus on Kohlberg's specific 'logic of development' has foreclosed the account for the multi-dimensionality and complexity of human development.

Streib's reflection and writing has been and is part of this discussion. It began with a dissertation at Emory University (Streib 1991). The article, "Religion als Stilfrage" (1997) [English translation 2003 in the International Journal for Practical Theology], outlines a new perspective. Streib's revised model has been published in an article in 2001, "Faith Development Theory Revisited: The Religious Styles Perspective". The contribution to the conference, "One Hundred years of Psychology of Religion" 2003 in Amsterdam with the title "Variety and Complexity of Religious Development" explicates a new perspective in reference to life-span developmental psychology.

In brief, this new perspective on faith development attempts to pay special attention to:

  • life-history (life-span development)
  • life-world and interpersonality
  • the psychodynamics of God representations.

The new perspective leads to a greater variety and complexity of religious development; it surpasses the model of Kohlberg's cognitive-structural "logic of development," in order to arrive at a more open heuristic conceptualization of religious styles.

Documentation of Research Results

The search of the theoretical and empirical work on faith development has revealed a rather high number of dissertations and research project using Fowler's theory and method. The state of research in 2002 has been summarized in a chapter ("Faith Development Research at Twenty Years").

The Bielefeld-Based Cross-Cultural Study on Deconversion which has been completed in 2005 includes more than 270 faith development interviews. We also engage in cross-cultural faith development research with Islamic participants: A comparison of the faith development and religious socialization of Turkish-Islamic adolescents gowing up in Turkey and in Germany was the dissertation project of Adem Aygün, an inter-generational comparison of faith development in Turkish-Islamic families in Germany is the dissertation project of Sakin Özisik. Also in our current study on the sematics of "spirituality," the faith development interview is the main instrument for the personal interview.


InstrumentDevelopment & Methodology Discussion

The Manual for Faith Development Research (Moseley, Jarvis & Fowler 1993) has been revised in 2004: Our third edition by James W. Fowler, Heinz Streib, Barbara Keller is available for download  [Manual Download]. Main points in this revision are the introduction of Aspect-specific coding and of computer-assisted evaluation.

Recent developments include a new algorithm for caclucating aspect-specific scores and the total faith development score (if you are interested, please send an email to H.Streib.

The perspective for a revision of research methods and instruments in faith development have been described in the 2005 article, "Faith Development Research Revisited: Accounting for Diversity in Structure, Content, and Narrativity of Faith" (International Journal for the Psychology of Religion [pdf]).

Last, but not least: we have developed and initially validated a new quantitative instrument to measure religious styles, the Religious Schema Scale (RSS). It has been introduced in our 2010 article.

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