Barbara Keller and Heinz Streib


Narrative study of religious lives has formed part of numerous projects at the Bielefeld Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion. An essential instrument in our designs, which mostly combine qualitative and quantitative methods, is the Faith Development Interview (FDI). In response to longstanding criticism its cognitive structural framework has been revised in respect of styles and schemata. The religious styles perspective examines the self as articulated in narratives and associates it with affectivity and emotion. This article gives an overview of our theoretical and methodological revisions, which take cognizance of current developments in lifespan developmental and clinical psychology such as attachment, mentalization and wisdom. We illustrate the implementation of these advances with a case study from our current study of ‘spirituality’,1 which we locate in the complex multi-method design, and outline the triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data.

Heinz Streib and Barbara Keller


This article presents an outline of historical and situational arguments which suggest a focus on deconversion, an outline of conversion research and its consequences for deconversion, and a discussion of extant empirical research on deconversion. The discussion then focuses on the conceptualization of deconversion and compiles the features from which a comprehensive concept of deconversion may emerge. The core features of the deconversion concept which is suggested in this article are complemented by dimensions of diversity which also include a developmental perspective (from the religious styles perspective). This has implications for future research.

Stephen Krauss, Christopher Silver, Barbara Keller and Heinz Streib


The goals of the study were to examine whether fundamentalism and authoritarianism could be distinguished by the Big Five factors of personality in American, Romanian and German samples, and to determine whether fundamentalism and authoritarianism could be distinguished by factor analysis in any of the three cultures. The results in all three cultures indicate that fundamentalism and authoritarianism have virtually identical personality correlates. In all three cultures, the two constructs were indistinguishable via exploratory factor analysis and could only be distinguished via confirmatory factor analysis, although direction-of-wording effects dwarfed the differences between fundamentalism and authoritarianism. The findings suggest that researchers should view fundamentalism as religious authoritarianism, and should therefore be cautious when making inferences about religiosity from research on fundamentalism.

Amina Hanif Tarar, Syeda Salma Hassan and Barbara Keller

Faith development theory has evolved as a prominent theoretical perspective during the past three decades to explain different ways of relating to religious beliefs and worldviews. Recent revisions of the theory have elaborated on these characteristic ways as religious styles namely the fundamentalist, mutual, individuative-systemic, and dialogical. The present study developed an Urdu version of its principal measure, i.e., Faith Development Interview, to analyze twelve cases of Muslims of various religious affiliations within Islam in Pakistan. Four case studies representative of each faith style are presented in detail. The cases are compared to analyze Islamic faith in terms of faith development theory and to understand fundamentalism in a Muslim context. The findings support faith development theory as a comprehensive paradigm to address the varieties of faith orientations in Islam. Implications for future research with larger samples in highly religious and collectivistic cultures are discussed.

Barbara Keller, Constantin Klein, Anne Swhajor-Biesemann, Christopher F. Silver, Ralph Hood and Heinz Streib


Culturally different connotations of basic concepts challenge the comparative study of religion. Do persons in Germany or in the United States refer to the same concepts when talking about ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’? Does it make a difference how they identify themselves? The Bielefeld-Chattanooga Cross-Cultural Study on ‘Spirituality’ includes a semantic differential approach for the comparison of self-identified “neither religious nor spiritual”, “religious”, and “spiritual” persons regarding semantic attributes attached to the concepts ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ in each research context. Results show that ‘spirituality’ is used as a broader concept than ‘religion’. Regarding religion, semantics attributed by self-identified religious persons differ significantly from those of the spiritual persons. The ‘spiritual’ and the ‘religious’ groups agree on semantics attributed to spirituality but differ from the ‘neither spiritual nor religious’ group. Qualifications of differences and agreements become visible from the comparison between the United States and Germany. It is argued for the semantically sensitive study of culturally situated ‘spiritualities’.