Publication details [#59592]

Altmeyer, Stefan, Constantin Klein, Barbara Keller, Christopher F. Silver, Ralph W. Hood and Heinz Streib. 2015. Subjective definitions of spirituality and religion. An exploratory study in Germany and the US. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 20 (4) : 526–552.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This paper shows how corpus methods can be usefully employed in the field of psychology of religion in triangulation with other empirical instruments. Current international surveys mirror an on-going transformation in subjective meanings in religious discourse cumulating in the question: what do people actually mean when they describe themselves as spiritual, religious or neither? The paper presents results of a cross-cultural study with 1,886 participants in the US and Germany. The thematic goal is to explore subjective understandings by examining personal definitions of religion and spirituality. Methodologically, the study shows how the key word procedure can be used to compare the semantic profile of subjective concepts between different languages and cultures by contrasting them to standard language and by using socio-biographical context variables to build contrasting sub-corpora. To control the in-equivalence of existing reference corpora in terms of size and design a so-called reference control corpus (RCC) is introduced