On Method

A Foundation for Empirical Research on Implicit Religion


  • Tatjana Schnell Innsbruck University, Institute of Psychology




Implicit Religion, Implicit Religiosity, method, theory, empirical research


Implicit Religion can be used as a hermeneutical tool for interpreting reality (IR-as-tool), or it can aim to describe, explain and predict aspects of the social world (IR-as-theory). The second approach demands the formulation of a theory, including a definitional core and related assumptions. IR-as-theory can be evaluated through methodical empirical investigation. In this article, a foundation for empirical research on IR is outlined. A post-empiricist, constructivist epistemological background for doing research on IR is suggested. The need for explication and definition is argued, as is the necessity of anchoring IR in nomological frameworks by determining convergence with and divergence from related concepts. The process of operationalization is described, taking into account different levels (content, structure, function) and units (individual, organizational, institutional, social) of analysis. Finally, the requirement of testability is addressed. To determine a theory’s viability, theoretical claims have to be translated into empirically falsifiable hypotheses. Falsification can indicate biased or erroneous assumptions, whereas accumulation of support for theoretically deduced hypotheses corroborates the viability of the theory. In conclusion, it is proposed that, although initially reducing the complexity of IR, empirical research will enhance the understanding of Implicit Religion, raise valuable new questions, inspire further exploration and suggest constructive applications of the theory of IR.


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How to Cite

Schnell, T. (2013). On Method: A Foundation for Empirical Research on Implicit Religion. Implicit Religion, 15(4), 407–422. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v15i4.407