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Universität Bielefeld
Forschungsstelle Biographische Religionsforschung
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie
Postfach 10 01 31
33501 Bielefeld

Dr. Barbara Keller, Dipl.-Psych.

working area

Longitudinal Study of Religious Development in U.S.A. and Germany

Analysis of the Semantics, Psychological and Sociological Correlates and Biographical Contexts of a Self-Attribution
An Empirical-Theological Investigation, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Teaching in psychology of religion, research methods

Focus of research:

Scientific interests:

  • Development of religion, spirituality and meaning making over the life-span
  • Faith biographies: remembering and the narrative construction of identity
  • Psychotherapy and pastoral care,
  • Women- and gender studies;
  • Occupational development;
  • Integration of qualitative and quantitative methods;
  • Interdisciplinary exploration of spirituality, religion and other ways of constructing meaning in life

Selected Publications

Keller, B., Klein, C., Swhajor-Biesemann, A., Silver, C. F. Hood, R. & Streib, H. (2013) The Semantics of "Spirituality" and Related Self-Identifications: A Comparative Study in Germany and the USA. Archive for the Psychology of Religion 35, 71-100.

Keller, B., Klein, C., & Streib, H. (2013) Das Faith Development Interview Zur Exploration von Spiritualität im psychotherapeutischen Setting. Spiritual Care 1, 35-43.

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

Keller, B., Klein, C., Hood, R. W. & Streib, H. (2013). Deconversion and religious or spiritual transformation. In S. Heine H. & Westerink (Eds.), Constructs of Meaning and Religious Transformation . Vienna: V&R Unipress.

Klein, C., Keller, B. & Traunmüller, R. (in press) Sind Frauen tatsächlich grundsätzlich religiöser als Männer? Internationale und interreligiöse Befunde auf Basis des Religionsmonitors 2008

Streib, H., Hood, R. W. , Keller, B. , Csöff, M. & Silver, C. (2009) Deconversion. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Keller, B. (2009) Weibliche Entwicklung 50+: Herausforderungen, Hemmnisse, Hoffnungen aus psychodynamischer Perspektive. In: C Kramer & B. Blättel-Mink (eds) Doing Aging - Weibliche Perspektiven des Älterwerdens. Baden-Baden: Nomos 69-77.

Keller, B. (2008) Toward a multidimensional conception of faith development: Deconversion narratives in biographical context. In J. Belzen & A. Geels (eds) (Auto)biography and the psychological study of religious lives. Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi 75-93.

Keller, B. (2008) Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie. In Myers: Psychologie. Heidelberg: Springer 885-937.

Krauss, S. W., Streib, H., Keller, B. & Silver, C. (2006) Authoritarianism and Fundamentalism: The Distinction between Authoritarianism and Fundamentalism in Three Cultures: Factor Analysis and Personality Correlates. Archiv für Religionspsychologie, 28, 341-348.

J. Fowler, H. Streib & B. Keller (2004) Manual for Faith Development Research, 2004 Edition.

Streib, H. & Keller, B. (2004) The Variety of Deconversion Experiences: Contours of a Concept in Respect to Empirical Research. Archiv für Religionspsychologie 26, 181-200.

Keller, B. (2003). Gedächtnisse und Erinnerungen: Psychologische Perspektiven. Handlung, Kultur, Interpretation, Interdisziplinäres Themenheft (eds N. Pethes & J. Ruchatz).

Keller, B. (2002) Personal identity and social discontinuity: On memories of the "war generation" in former West Germany. In J. D. Webster & B. Haight (eds.): Critical Advances in Reminiscence. From Theory to Application. New York etc.: Springer Verlag.

Keller, B. & Mischau, A. (2002). Frauen machen Karriere in Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und Politik: Chancen nutzen - Barrieren überwinden. Baden - Baden: Nomos.


2008 -2009 Psychotherapist at the center for psychotraumatology, Alexianer Krankenhaus, Krefeld

2005-2007 Psychotherapeutic internship at Rheinklinik in Bad Honnef, psychoanalytic training at the Ambulanz des Instituts für Psychotherapie und Psychoanalyse im Rheinland e.V. (IPR)

2002-2005 Research associate at the Research Center for Biographical Studies of Contempoary Religion of Bielefeld University (Bielefeld Deconversion Studies)

2000-2002 Dresden / TU / Department of developmental psychology/ life span development.

1997-2000 Lectureship at Cologne Univesity;

1999-2000, project with autistic young adults, Stadt Köln.

1994-1995 Research Assistant in "Aging survey" , dept. of psychogerontology, Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

Doctorate (1996) in Heidelberg Rekonstruktion von Vergangenheit: Vom Umgang der "Kriegsgeneration" mit Lebenserinnerungen ("Reconstruction" of the Past - How the "War Generation" looks back) (Westdt. Verlag)

1991-1994 Research project on the psychological aspects of housing conditions of elderly women in the city. Grant-aided by the Ministerium für Familie, Frauen, Weiterbildung und Kunst, Stuttgart.


  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychoanalyse, Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik und Tiefenpsychologie (DGPT)
  • Psychotherapeutenkammer NRW
  • International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR)
  • Founding member of the "Heidelberger Institut für Interdisziplinäre Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung" e. V.,
  • Member of the scientific advisory board of the Deutsche Stiftung Frauen- und Geschlechterforscung, Heidelberg
  • Member of WISE (Women´s International Studies Europe)

Research Projects

Sexuality and Gender in the Bielefeld Deconversion Studies

The questionnaire data show: Differences between male and female deconverts concern self-identifications as "spiritual" versus "religious"and profiles of psychological well-being. Female and male members of religious communities show differences regarding personality and variables related to religion. Differences in the German subsample, however, are different from differences in the USAmerican subsample. These differences can be explained when taking into account the background of different religious landscapes and research contexts. The deconverts we studied do not display corresponding gender-related differences, raising the question of deconversion and gender-related self-assessments. Deconversion narratives show how sexuality, gender, and gender role are constructed, and how American and German men and women do this when reconstructing their deconversion experiences.

Faith biographies and faith development

Based on an encompassing concept of faith the Faith Development Interview (FDI) explores the domains of life review, relationships and attachments, Values and committments, and religion and world views. Faith biographies, narratives reconstructing one´s faith development in the context of one´s autobiographical remembering and reasoning, are elicited. Linguistic, discourse and content related strategies of analysis are tested and discussed.

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