Table of Contents
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.
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.).
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%).
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
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,
- 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).
Completion time for this paper-and-pencil instrument is ap proximately 5-10 minutes. The five final
Two unpublished studies that have recently utilized the adjective checklist items (Fairchild et al., 1993, Sundin, Ladd, & Spilka, 1995) offer further support.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, P. H. ( 1957). Measurement of meaning. Urbana: Urbana University of Illinois Press.
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.