Concept «Religion» in the Consciousness of Young People: Psycholinguistic Analysis

Keywords: concept, free association test, religion, religious discourse, students.


Objective. The creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the reason of religious discourse investigation. The aim of this research is to analyze concept “religion” in the consciousness of young people.

Materials & Methods. Free word association test (WAT) has been used for psycholinguistic analysis. The respondents have been received a questionnaire with ten words-stimuli (related to religious discourse: clergyman, priest, theologian, church, religion, preaching, sacraments, faith, sin, prayer). In this article, we only analyzed associations for “religion”. The sample consisted of 246 students (biologists, psychologists and publishers) from Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University.

Results. As a result of the free WAT, 258 responses to the stimulus word “religion” were, among them 106 different associations. Among the most frequent responses were “faith”, “Christianity”, “church” and “orthodoxy”. In general, respondents often associate religion with the church and specific faiths (in this case, Christianity and Orthodoxy). The grammar and logical characteristics of the obtained associations have been analyzed. It has been shown that central paradigmatic reactions to the stimulus word “religion” predominate. The thematic features of the associations to “religion” have been analyzed. Ten different thematic groups have been identified: faith; types and directions of religion; outlook; church; morality; emotions; people; negative evaluations. The most numerous thematic group is “faith” which binds “religion” with faith in God and higher powers. The least numerous thematic groups are “morality”, “emotions” and “people”.

Conclusions. Students view religion on two sides. On the one hand, as a set of beliefs or a certain outlook. On the other hand, they restrict this concept to the community of like-minded, who meet in the church. In general, this thematic variety of the associations indicates a high level of students' awareness of the concept of “religion”. Prospects for further study of this problem lie in an in-depth psycholinguistic analysis of religious discourse.


Download data is not yet available.


Busel, V.T. (Ed.). (2005). Velykyi tlumachnyi slovnyk suchasnoi ukrainskoi movy [Great Dictionary of the modern Ukrainian language]. Kyiv: Perun. Retrieved from [in Ukrainian].

Dokash, V. (2015). Relihiinist ukrainskoho suspilstva: suspilni vymiry i faktory zmin [Religiosity of Ukrainian society: social dimensions and factors of change]. Relihiia ta Sotsium – Religion and Socium, 3(19), 113–120 [in Ukrainian].

Zasiekina, L.V., & Zasiekin, S.V. (2008). Psykholinhvistychna Diahnostyka [Psycholinguistic Diagnostics]. Lutsk: Vezha [in Ukrainian].

Kostruba, N. (2018). Verbalna reprezentatsiya kontseptu «tserkva» (za danymyasotsiatyvnoho eksperymentu) [Verbal representation of the concept «church» (according to the associative experiment)]. Psiholingvistika – Psycholinguistics, 23(1), 160–174. [in Ukrainian].

Krupska, O.I. (2009). Stavlennia do batkiv yak chynnyk rozvytku relihiinykh uiavlen osib yunatskoho viku [Attitude towards parents as a factor in the development of persons' religious beliefs in adolescence]. Extended abstract of candidate’s thesis. Kyiv [in Ukrainian].

Matlasevych, O.V. (2013). Khrystyianski tsinnosti yak osnova psykholohichnoi praktyky [Christian values as the basis of psychological practice]. Naukovi zapysky Natsionalnoho universytetu «Ostrozka akademiia». Ser.: Psykholohiia i pedahohika – Scientific notes of the Ostroh Academy National University. Ser.: Psychology and Pedagogy, 25, 96–100 [in Ukrainian].

Petryk, T. (2016). Freimova model kontseptu «relihiia» v ezoterychnomu dyskursi [Frame model of the concept “religion” in esoteric discourse]. Visnyk Lvivskoho universytetu. Seriia inozemni movy – Visnyk of the Lviv University. Series Foreign Languages, 23, 10–17 [in Ukrainian].

Postovalova, V.I. (2012). Religioznyie kontsepti v teolingvisticheskom predstavlenii [Religious concepts in teolinguistic representation]. In A.K. Gadomskoj & K. Koncharevich (Eds.), Teolingvistika – Teolinguistiks (pp. 143–152). Beograd: Belgrade University [in Russian].

Saveliuk, N. (2015). Discourse as an Interdisciplinary Concept and its Psychological Dimensions [Dyskurs yak mizhdystsyplinarne poniattia ta yoho psykholohichni vymiry]. Psychological Prospects Journal, 26, 251–264 [in Ukrainian].

Saveliuk N.S. (2017). Psykholohiia rozuminnia relihiinoho dyskursu [Psychology of Understanding Religious Discourse]. Kyiv: KNT [in Ukrainian].

Chmil, N. (2017). Verbalna reprezentatsiya kontseptu «propovid» (za danymy asotsiatyvnoho eksperymentu) [Verbal Representation of the Concept «Sermon» (Based on the Association Test)]. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics, 4(1), 30–39. [in Ukrainian].

Abdel Salam El-Dakhs, D. (2017). The Effect of Language Exposure and Word Characteristics on the Arab EFL Learners’ Word Associations. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 46(4), 1033–1052.

Bruce, S. (2011). Defining religion: a practical response. International Review of Sociology, 21(1), 107–120.

Colijn, B. (2018). The Concept of Religion in Modern China: A Grassroots Perspective. Exchange-journal of missiological and ecumenical research, 47(1), 53–70.

Eysenck, M. W. (2012). Fundamentals of Cognition (2nd ed.). Milton Park: Psychology Taylor & Francis.

Gawda, B. (2019). The Structure of the concepts related to love spectrum: emotional verbal fluency technique application, initial psychometrics, and its validation. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 48, 1339–1361.

Paloutzian, R.F. (2017). Psychology of Religion in Global Perspective: Logic, Approach, Concepts. International journal for the Psychology of Religion, 27(1), 1–13.

Pamela, J.S., & Strathern, A. (2014). Ritual: Key Concepts in Religion. London: Bloomsbury.

Schilderman, H. (2014). The Concept of Religion: Defining and Measuring Contemporary Beliefs and Practices. Leiden: Brill.

Schmid, K (2018). Os primórdios da religião politizada: a teologização de conceitos políticos imperiais no Israel Antigo. Estudos Teologicos, 58(2), 483–496.

Stewart P.J., & Strathern A. (2014). Ritual: Key Concepts in Religion. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Vorontsov, S. (2016). Some considerations on the concept of religion in the etymologiae of isidore of seville. Athenaeum-studi Periodici di Letteratura e Storia Dell Antichita, 104(1), 245–250.

Watts, F. (2017). Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality: Concepts and Applications. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

Woodhead, L. (2011). Five concepts of religion. International Review of Sociology, 21(1), 121–143.

Abstract views: 704
PDF Downloads: 435
How to Cite
Kostruba, N. (2020). Concept «Religion» in the Consciousness of Young People: Psycholinguistic Analysis. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 27(1), 164-180.