ADJECTIVE RATINGS OF GOD

Variable:

The purpose of the Adjective Ratings of God Scale is to push beyond the vague (but often asked) survey question, "Do you believe in God?" In particular, the scale measures specific concepts regarding the type of God (e.g., kindly, wrathful, etc.) in whom belief is placed.

Description:

Two primary theories were ex­plored as potential bases for these percep­tions. One (Spilka, Armatas, & Nussbaum, 1964) focused on the usefulness of anthro­pomorphic characterizations of God. Re­ searchers used 63 adjectives to derive five factors descriptive of a religious individ­ual's God perceptions (stern father, imper­sonal, kindly father, "omni-ness," and scales are easily extractable and are readily related to other constructs (e.g., intrinsic-ex­trinsic, etc.).

Norms/Standardization:

Responses were initially obtained from 585 undergraduate students (234 females, 351 males). The sample was moderately religious (29% at­ tended services at least once per week) and primarily Christian Protestant (77%).

Reliability:

The five final subscales evi­denced high to moderately high reliabilities:

The other (Osgood, Suci, & Tannenbaum, 1957) stressed linguistic characteristics of frequently used adjectives (e.g., good vs. bad). Working under the Semantic Differen­tial rubric, 28 adjectives were reduced to Traditional Christian Deisticness Wrathfulness Omni-ness Irrelevancy

  • .94
  • .71
  • .83
  • .89
  • .491

three factors associated with the linguistic properties of adjectives (evaluation: good vs. bad; potency: strong vs. weak; and activ­ity: active vs. passive).

To these 91 words, Gorsuch added nine marker items (eight random variables and one denoting sex); the nine additional items are not a part of the final scale. Words were rated: (a) "the word does not describe 'God,"' (b) "the word describes 'God,"' and Ultimately, eight first-order, two second­ order, and one third-order potentially corre­lated factors were determined. From among the general items composing each dimen­sion, Gorsuch isolated items on 5 of the l l factors to construct reliable subscales. These five subscales compose the overall scale and consist of the following; Tradi­tional Christian

  • Items 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10,
  • II, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34,
  • 35,37,38,40,42,44,45,46,48,50,51,53,
  • 54,56,57,58,59,62,63,65,66,68, 74, 75,
  • 76, 78, 79, 82, 85, 86, 88); Deisticness
  • (Items 18, 39, 41, 55, 60); Wrathfulness
  • (Items 4, 6, 12, 13, 14, 36, 43, 64, 70, 71,
  • 76, 81, 90); Omni-ness (Items 42, 56, 57,
  • ; and Irrelevancy (Items 24, 28, 87, 89).

Practical Considerations:

Completion time for this paper-and-pencil instrument is ap­ proximately 5-10 minutes. The five final

Eighty-five males randomly selected from the original sample and set aside as a cross­ validation sample displayed similar results.

Two unpublished studies that have re­cently utilized the adjective checklist items (Fairchild et al., 1993, Sundin, Ladd, & Spilka, 1995) offer further support. Reliabil­ities for the scales in college student sam­ples of 116 (Fairchild et al., 1993) and 149 (Sundinet al., 1995) respondents, respec­tively, were as follows:

  • Traditional Christian .83 .94
  • Deisticness .65 .71
  • Wrathfulness .89 .79
  • Omni-ness .69 .86
  • Kindliness2 .94 .95

These two studies with only moderate sample sizes did not attempt confirmatory factoring of the scales, nor did they treat "traditional Christian" as a higher order fac­ tor. Although the basic scales extracted appear solid, a full replication has not been conducted.

1 A lack of variance on responses to items in this scale severely attentuated reliability estimates.

2 The scale "kindliness" was not one of Gorsuch 's sug­gested scales, although it was present as a first order factor; it was used for heuristic purposes, even as "irrelevancy" was not used since that scale did not pertain to the research in question.

Validity:

Overall, support was lacking for a purely semantic differential explanation of God concepts. The five factor finding of Spilka et al. (1964) was, however, essen­tially replicated, albeit in complex relation to Osgood et al. (1957). This replication suggests that the factors in question appear consistently. What remains is to compare di­rectly the Gorsuch scales with others that purport to measure similar constructs.

Religious Concept Survey

The following is a survey to determine what descriptive words apply to God. Please print a "l," "2," or "3" on the line before each word according to how well you think it describes what the term "God" means to you. There are no right or wrong answers; we are interested in what this concept means to each person. Use the following scale:

  • 1. The word does not describe "God."
    2. The word describes "God."
    3. The word describes "God" particularly well.

  1. Absolute
  2. Critical
  3. Faithful
  4. Gracious
  5. Active
  6. Cruel
  7. False
  8. Guiding
  9. All-wise
  10. Damning
  11. Fast
  12. Hard
  13. Avenging
  14. Dangerous
  15. Fatherly
  16. Helpful
  17. Blessed
  18. Demanding
  19. Fearful
  20. Holy
  21. Blunt
  22. Democratic
  23. Feeble
  24. hnpersonal
  25. Charitable
  26. Distant
  27. Firm
  28. Important
  29. Comforting
  30. Divine
  31. Forgiving
  32. Inaccessible
  33. Considerate
  34. Eternal
  35. Formal
  36. Infinite
  37. Controlling
  38. Everlasting
  39. Gentle
  40. Jealous
  41. Creative
  42. Fair
  43. Glorious
  44. Just
  45. Kind
  46. Omnipresent
  47. Safe
  48. Tough
  49. Kingly
  50. Omniscient
  51. Severe
  52. True
  53. Lenient
  54. Patient
  55. Sharp
  56. Loving
  57. Passive
  58. Slow
  59. Majestic
  60. Permissive
  61. Soft
  62. Matchless
  63. Powerful
  64. Sovereign
  65. Meaningful
  66. Protective
  67. Steadfast
  68. Meek
  69. Punishing
  70. Stern
  71. Merciful
  72. Real
  73. Still
  74. Moving
  75. Redeeming
  76. Strong
  77. Mythical
  78. Restrictive
  79. Supporting
  80. Omnipotent
  81. Righteous
  82. Timely
  83. Unchanging
  84. Unyielding
  85. Valuable
  86.  Vigorous
  87. Weak
  88. Warm
  89. Worthless
  90.  Wrathful
  91.  Yielding

Location:

Gorsuch, R. L. (1968). The conceptualization of God as seen in adjective ratings. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 7, 56-64.

Subsequent Research:

Schaefer, C. A., & Gorsuch, R. L. (1992). Di­mensionality of religion: Belief and motivation as predictors of behavior. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, I I, 244-254.

References

Fairchild, D., Roth, H., Milmoe, S., Gotthard, C., Fehrmann, L., Richards, S., Kim, B. H., Sedl­mayr, J., Carely, B., Pan, P., & Spilka, B. (1993). God images and prayer behavior: Consonance in the psychology of religion. Paper presented at the joint convention of the Rocky Mountain and Western Psychological Associations, Phoenix, AZ.

Gorsuch, R. L. (1968). The conceptualization of God as seen in adjectiveratings. Journal for the Sci­entific Study of Religion, 7, 56-64.

Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, P. H. ( 1957). Measurement of meaning. Urbana: Urbana University of Illinois Press.

Spilka, B., Armatas, P. & Nussbaum, J. (1964). The concept of God: A factor analytic approach. Review of Religious Research, 6, 28-36.

Sundin, H., Ladd, K. L., & Spilka, B. (1995). The relation between God images and perceptions of God's control. Paper presented at the annual con­vention of the Rocky Mountain Psychological As­ sociation, Boulder, CO.