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Understanding Unbelief

Research Methods for the Scientific Study of Nonreligion

Lois Lee, Stephen Bullivant, Miguel Farias and Jonathan Lanman

Since April 2016, the Scientific Study of Nonreligious Belief project has worked in collaboration with the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN) to present a series of blogs providing practical guidance for the empirical study of nonreligious individuals, institutions and cultures, as well as exploring outstanding methodological challenges and new opportunities. In this opening blog, the series editors, Lois Lee, Stephen Bullivant, Miguel Farias and Jonathan Lanman, introduce the series. Read more…

Measuring Implicit Religious and Nonreligious Belief

Elisa Järnefelt

In the first of the SSNB/NSRN Methods Blog series, Elisa Järnefelt introduces us to methods for researching, not the religious-like and religion-related beliefs we consciously think we hold, but the ones we unconsciously hold – which work to shape our attitudes, behaviours and relationships with others beneath our awareness. Read more…

Angels and the Digital Afterlife: Studying Nonreligion Online

Tim Hutchings

In the second instalment of the SSNB/NSRN methods blog, Tim Hutchings argues that the scope and significance of digital methodologies for the study of – and beyond – ‘nonreligion’ is much broader and more promising than is often perceived. Read more…

Measuring Atheism: Differentiating Non-religiosity and Anti-religiosity

Egbert Ribberink, Peter Achterberg and Dick Houtman

In this post, Egbert Ribberink, Peter Achterberg and Dick Houtman explore the problematic nature of measuring and differentiating atheism, non-religion and anti-religiosity and call for using existing large-scale surveys to understand said phenomena. From their recent research they detail the particular obstacles they overcame and elucidate how different questions on measuring non-belief produce much different answers. Read more…

Not for Girls? Gender and Researching Nonreligion

Marta Trzebiatowska

In the latest contribution to the SSNB/NSRN Methods Blog, Marta Trzebiatowska explores how we need to structure our methodologies to take account of gender – and how our methodologies may themselves be structured by gender. Read more…

You Get What You Ask For: The Importance of Question Wording in Surveys

Ryan T. Cragun

In the latest instalment of the NSRN/SSNB Methods series, sociologist Ryan T. Cragun considers bad, better and best ways of asking interview questions about religious affiliation and belief. Read more…

Creating Data about Nonreligious Belief

Abby Day

Abby Day is a leading sociologist of ‘belief’. Here, she sets out what working with ‘belief’ as a significant category of self-understanding can achieve, for religious ‘unbelievers’ as much as for ‘believers’. She encourages the use of analytical tools that respond to the complexity and multidimensionality of belief, and introduces her own seven-point method as one such approach. Read more…

Honest Answers to Awkward Questions

Will Gervais

In this installment of the SSNB/NSRN Methods Blog series, psychologist Will Gervais introduces us to the unmatched count technique for survey research.  This technique is designed to allow survey takers to give more honest answers to awkward questions (e.g. Do you believe in God?) and to allow researchers to make more accurate population level estimates of socially sensitive phenomena (e.g.  the prevalence of atheism). Read more…

Using Neuromodulation to Change Belief – and Unbelief

Valerie van Mulukom

Valerie van Mulukom introduces cognitive research exploring how religious beliefs can be modulated. She shows how reframing such research as stimulating of ‘unbelief’ open new avenues for new ways of exploring the nature of unbelief and its similarities and dissimilarities to religious and spiritual beliefs. Read more…

On the Virtues of a Meaning Systems Framework for Studying Nonreligious and Religious Worldviews in the Context of Everyday Life

Ann Taves

Ann Taves explores one of the central questions in contemporary nonreligious studies – and a long-standing religious studies, too: how to understand and describe the object of study. Providing an overview of recent propositions arising from psychology, sociology and anthropology, she sets out a proposal for a meaning systems approach. Read more…

Further information is available on the NSRN Blog.

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