A Framework for the Study of Implicit Religion

The Psychological Theory of Implicit Religiosity


  • Tatjana Schnell University of Trier




implicit religion, myth, ritual, transcendent experience


A basic, inter-disciplinarily developed theory of implicit religiosity is introduced. Three structures common to all explicit religions are identified: they are myth, ritual, and experience of transcendence. Independent of a content, they can be viewed as patterns of thinking (myth), acting (rituals) and feeling (experiences of transcendence) underlying all kinds of—implicitly or explicitly—religious conduct. Only when associated with personally meaningful contents, do these structures become representatives of implicit religiosity: they turn into ‘personal myth’, ‘personal rituals’ and subjectively accessible transcendent experiences. A qualitative empirical study of contents of implicit religiosity and related ultimate meanings is described. Results are displayed to demonstrate the functional equivalence of implicit and explicit religiosity. An inventory of ultimate meanings as well as a list of contents frequently associated with implicit religion are documented. Finally, the theory of implicit religiosity is used as a framework for the comparison of applications of implicit religion. A synopsis of applications, subdivided into myth, ritual, and transcendent experience, helps to integrate existing research in the field, to determine the scope of the applications, and to display the religious state of contemporary societies.



How to Cite

Schnell, T. (2003). A Framework for the Study of Implicit Religion: The Psychological Theory of Implicit Religiosity. Implicit Religion, 6(2-3), 86–104. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v6i2.86