Investigating “Spirituality”: Between Survey Data and the Study of Biographies

  • Heinz StreibEmail author
  • Constantin Klein
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.


“Spirituality” has become a rather popular way of self-describing one’s world view and practice in relation to the ultimate. While for many “spirituality” is more or less identical with “religion,” surveys document that a growing number of people contrast “spirituality” and “religion,” self-identifying as “spiritual, but not religious” or as “more spiritual than religious.” These are indications of changes in the religious field. This chapter aims at locating the Bielefeld-based Cross-cultural Study on “Spirituality” in the context of results from recent large-scale survey research (General Social Survey; Allgemeine Bevölkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaft; Religion Monitor). Survey results on “spirituality” will be presented to contextualize analyses that are presented in later chapters of this volume—and to profile our research design and its aims. Contextualization however also means to introduce the research design of our study—which is not another survey, but rather the attempt to answer questions that surveys leave open. Most urgent desiderata in the study of “spirituality” regard the semantics, psychology and biographical significance of spirituality. Our study has thus employed a variety of methods: quantitative self-report data, free entries in the questionnaire, semantic differentials, an experimental approach, and last but not least a large amount of personal interviews. This chapter ends with an outline of the combination and triangulation of the variety of methods and sorts of data.


Spiritual Religion Multi-method Mixed-method Triangulation Survey results 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz Streib
    • 1
    Email author
  • Constantin Klein
    • 1
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.University of TennesseeChattanoogaUSA

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