The research design has included narrative interviews, faith development interviews and a questionnaire, thus a triangulation of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Methodologically, the heart of the study was the reconstructive-biographical analysis of narrative interviews and the analysis of faith development interviews with focus persons who have been selected according to the procedure of theoretic sampling. As evaluation methods, we use computer-assisted narrative analysis and faith development evaluation according to the Manual (Fowler, Streib & Keller 2004) which includes aspect-specific coding and is also computer-assisted.
For quantitative investigation, we have develped a questionnaire which includes the folowing parts:
- a demographic section in which we asked also questions on religious vs. spiritual self-identification and questions on religious socialization,
- the “Big Five” personality scale (NEO-FFI, Costa & McCrae, 1985),
- the Scale on Psychological Well-Being and Growth (Ryff Scale, Ryff & Singer, 1996),
- the Religious Fundamentalism Scale (RF, Altemeyer & Hunsberger, 1992), and
- the Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale (RWA, Altemeyer, 1996).
The focus persons (= deconverts) have been invited to share their stories in narrative interviews, to complete a faith development interview (according to Fowler, 1981; Fowler, Streib & Keller 2004), and complete our questionnaire.
In order to situate the biographical analyses of deconverts within the contextual background of the respective groups and to investigate the milieus in greater detail, we interviewed with our questionnaire up to ten members from each group from which the focus person has deconverted. Furthermore, up to three members of theses groups, have been interviewed with the faith development interview.
For our study on deconversion, we have therefore designed a structure for the basic unit of research - wich can be visualized in a figure [pdf].