Design, Methods, and Sample Characteristics of the Bielefeld-Based Cross-Cultural Study of “Spirituality”

  • Barbara KellerEmail author
  • Heinz Streib
  • Christopher F. Silver
  • Constantin Klein
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.


The Bielefeld-based Cross-cultural Study of “Spirituality” aims at an in-depth understanding of what people call “spirituality.” For this aim, a multi-method design has been applied. Self-report instruments such as psychometric scales were used with a large sample in Germany and the USA. Our sampling procedure, aiming at capturing the varieties of being “spiritual,” resulted in a sample of 1113 participants in the USA and 773 in Germany. This chapter introduces the instruments which were compiled for our questionnaire, the Faith Development Interview , and the Implicit Association Task which we used with a selected smaller sample. The chapter also describes the construction of “focus groups ,” groups defined according to participants’ self-identification as “spiritual,” as “religious” or as “atheist /non-theist.” These focus groups have been used to structure the sample with respect to positions in the religious field . They were also used for the selection of participants for personal interviews, the Faith Development Interview (FDI), and an experiment, the Implicit Association Test (IAT ). The characterization of the focus groups concludes the chapter.


Multi-method design Research design Spirituality Religion Sample characteristics 


  1. ALLBUS 2012. (2013). Allgemeine Bevölkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaften ALLBUS 2012 [General population survey for the social sciences, ALLBUS 2012]. [machine-readable data file]. Köln, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Scoial Sciences - Datenarchiv.Google Scholar
  2. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226–244.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Berghuis, J., Pieper, J., & Bakker, C. (2013). Conceptions of spirituality among the Dutch population. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 35, 369–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borkenau, P. & Ostendorf, F. (1993). NEO-Fünf-Faktoren-Inventar (NEO-FFI) nach Costa und McCrae: Handanweisung [NEO Five Factor Inventory according to Costa and McCrae. Manual]. Göttingen: Hogrefe, Verl. für Psychologie.Google Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Chen, Z., Hood, R. W., Yang, L., & Watson, P. J. (2011). Mystical experience among Tibetan Buddhists: The common core thesis revisited. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(2), 328–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1985). Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO five-factor-inventory (NEO-FFI). Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  8. Fonagy, P., Jurist, E., Gergely, G., & Target, M. (2002). Affect regulation, mentalization, and the development of the self. New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fonagy, P., Target, M., Steele, H., & Steele, M. (1998). Reflective-functioning manual version 5 for application to adult attachment interviews (unpublished manual).Google Scholar
  10. Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith. The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  11. Fowler, J. W., Streib, H., & Keller, B. (2004). Manual for faith development research (3rd ed.) Bielefeld; Atlanta: Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion, Bielefeld; Center for Research in Faith and Moral Development, Emory University. Available at
  12. GESIS. (2013). Allgemeine Bevölkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaften ALLBUS 2012 [General population survey for the social sciences, ALLBUS 2012] Variable Report. GESIS-Variable Reports Nr. 2013/16, Köln: GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Scoial Sciences.Google Scholar
  13. Granqvist, P. (2002). Attachment and religion: An integrative developmental framework. Ph.D. Dissertation, Avhandlingar från Uppsala universitet.Google Scholar
  14. Hofer, J., Busch, H., Chasiotis, A., Kärtner, J., & Campos, D. (2008). Concern for generativity and its relation to implicit pro-social power motivation, generative goals, and satisfaction with life: A cross-cultural investigation. Journal of Personality, 76(1), 1–30.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hood, R. W. (1975). The construction and preliminary validation of a measure of reported mystical experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 14(1), 29–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hood, R. W., Ghorbani, N., Watson, P. J., Ghramaleki, A. F., Bing, M. B., Davison, H. R., et al. (2001). Dimensions of the mysticism scale: Confirming the three-factor structure in the United States and Iran. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 40(4), 691–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McAdams, D. P., & de St. Aubin, E. (1992). A theory of generativity and its assessment through self-report, behavioral acts, and narrative themes in autobiography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 1003–1015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McAdams, D. P., de St. Aubin, E., & Logan, R. L. (1993). Generativity among young, midlife, and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 8, 221–230.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. McAdams, D. P., Diamond, A., de St. Aubin, E., & Mansfield, E. (1997). Stories of commitment: The psychosocial construction of generative lives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 678–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McAdams, D. P., Hart, H. M., & Maruna, A. S. (1998). The anatomy of generativity. In D. P. McAdams & E. de St. Aubin (Eds.), Generativity and adult development: How and why we care for the next generation (pp. 7–43). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  21. McCrae, R. R., Costa, P. T., del Pilar, G. H., Rolland, J. P., & Parker, W. D. (1998). Cross-cultural assessment of the five-factor model—The revised NEO personality inventory. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29, 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. OECD. (2011a). Education at a glance 2011. OECD Publishing, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2011).Google Scholar
  23. OECD. (2011b). OECD factbook 2011–2012: Economic, environmental and social statistics. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Osgood, C. E. (1962). Studies on the generality of affective meaning systems. American Anthropologist, 17, 10–28.Google Scholar
  25. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. H. (1998). The contours of positive human health. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Snider, J. G., & Osgood, C. E. (1969). Semantic differential technique: A sourcebook. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  28. Statistisches Bundesamt (2014). Wirtschaftrechnungen: Einnahmen und Ausgaben privater Haushalte 2012 [Economic calculations: Income and spending of privat households]. Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt.Google Scholar
  29. Staudinger, U. M., Lopez, D., & Baltes, P. B. (1997). The psychometric location of wisdom-related performance: Intelligence, personality, and more? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1200–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Staudinger, U. M., Smith, J., & Baltes, P. B. (1994). Manual for the assessment of wisdom-related knowledge. Materialien aus der Bildungsforschung; 46, Berlin: Max-Planck-Inst. für Bildungsforschung.Google Scholar
  31. Streib, H., Hood, R. W., & Klein, C. (2010). The religious schema scale: Construction and initial validation of a quantitative measure for religious styles. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 20, 151–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2006). International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). Montreal: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (Re-edition, originally published in 1997)
  33. Wood, B. T., Worthington, E. L., Jr., Exline, J. J., Yali, A. M., Aten, J. D., & McMinn, M. R. (2009). Development, refinement, and psychometric properties of the attitudes toward god scale (ATGS-9). Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 2, 148–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Keller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Heinz Streib
    • 1
  • Christopher F. Silver
    • 2
  • Constantin Klein
    • 1
  • Ralph W. HoodJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.University of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.University of TennesseeChattanoogaUSA

Personalised recommendations