Comprehending Incomprehensible: Comparative Approach in Qualitative Psychological Studies of Religiosity



The article presents an analysis of methodological problems in psychological studies of religiosity and offers a new comparative approach to qualitative research of religiosity as a component of human life. The authors demonstrate the possibility of combining ideas of religious philosophy (Christian and Islamic) with J. Lacan's psychoanalytic idea of a multidimensional subject in the psychological interpretation of biographical interviews of believers. The essence of the authors' approach to interpretation is repeated re-reading of the interview texts from the theological (close to the respondent's denomination), psychoanalytic and reflective positions, which provides methodological triangulation of qualitative analysis and creates opportunities for a richer understanding of the meanings of the stories. The analysis of two semi-structured interviews with Muslim and Orthodox women are presented. The authors discuss the possibilities of applying their methodological approach to the explorations of religious experience and the relationship between deep psychological and spiritual aspects of such experience.

General Information

Keywords: psychology of religion, qualitative methodology, interpretation, J. Lacan's theory of the subject, comparative approach in studies of religiosity

Journal rubric: Discussions and Discourses


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-013- 00536

For citation: Bratus B.S., Busygina N.P., Krichevec A.N., Nasibullov K.I. Comprehending Incomprehensible: Comparative Approach in Qualitative Psychological Studies of Religiosity. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 113–123. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170115. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Boris S. Bratus, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, Head of the Department of General Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Moscow State University. M. V. Lomonosova, Scientific Head of the Faculty of Psychology of the Orthodox Institute of St. John the Theologian of The Russian Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Natalya P. Busygina, PhD in Psychology, Assistant Professor, Department of Counselling and Clinical Psychology, Chair of Individual and Group Psychotherapy, Moscow State University of Psychology an Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Anatoly N. Krichevec, Doctor of Philosophy, PhD in Physics and Matematics, Professor, Department of Methodology of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Moscow State University. M. V. Lomonosov, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Kamil I. Nasibullov, PhD in Psychology, Senior Research Fellow, Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, Kazan, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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