The Attitudes Toward Christian be helpful in illuminating the relationship be- Women Scale (ACWS) is designed to meatween patriarchal beliefs and domestic viosure patriarchal Christian beliefs held by Jenee. It contains five subscales: female adult women. One assumption is that it may physical and emotional independence, female submissiveness and guilt, female innate and demonstrated efficacy, martyrdom, and God’s nature.


It is assumed that patriarchal beliefs are multidimensional. The scale con­ sists of 34 items, which are scored on a 6- point Likert continuum. The items were de­ rived from historical and modem theological views concerning the role of women in the family, church, and community.

lnteritem correlation coefficients were used to group items together into the five subscales. A minimum correlation coefficient of 0.6 was required before grouping items to­gether.

Because no item is represented in more than one subscale, the five subscales are in­ dependent and can be scored separately. The score of each subscale is determined by summing the scores of the items. Only 23 of the 34 items are included in the subscales. An overall score can also be obtained by totaling the responses of all 34 items.

Practical Considerations:

This scale does not require special training to administer or score. Each statement is clearly identified with either a patriarchal or an egalitarian view of women’s roles in the family, church, and society.


Those fifty subjects were personally recruited from the great Los Angeles area by a member of the research team. All subjects spoke English, ranged in age from I 8 to 65, and came from diverse ethnic educational, occupational, and Christian denominational backgrounds. In order to be included in the sample, each participant needed to be currently involved in a hetero­ sexual relationship for at least one year.


Pearson product-moment inter­ correlations were calculated among all the items to create subscales. A minimum correlation of .6 between items was used to select items for inclusion, resulting in five sub­ scales’ using 23 of the 34 original statements.

Internal consistency reliability coefficients were not reported.


The scale has high face validity with each item clearly identified as an egali­tarian or patriarchal view toward women. Several steps were taken to establish validity for this scale. First, the author attempted to demonstrate content validity by having three doctoral students familiar with both theology of women and domestic violence review the initial pool of statements drawn from theo­ logical materials on Christian womanhood. The items were then administered to six women who were subsequently interviewed for their impressions of the statements. The statements were then revised to form the final version.

The author hypothesized that there would be a correlation between gender role beliefs and ongoing behavior in heterosexual rela­tionships. She chose to administer an already established scale as well, The Attitudes to­ ward Women Scale (AWS), which is de­ signed to measure conservative, traditional female behavior and liberal, egalitarian fe­ male behavior. The AWS short form was used because it has been shown to signifi­cantly correlate with the longer version (.97 for college women and .96 for mothers of college students). With one exception (Fe­ male Submission and Guilt), all of the sub­ scales of the ACWS correlated significantly with the summed score of the AWS short form. On the basis of these results, the author concluded that religious gender role beliefs are multidimensional and may be indicative of expectations and behavior in heterosexual relationships.

The Attitudes Toward Christian Women Scale (ACWS)‌

  1. Males are the correct ministers of God’s word because both God and Jesus Christ are men.
  2. Wives are commanded to honor their husbands as the head of the family.
  3. There may be reasons besides adultery which make divorce the right decision for a Christian wife.
  4. When sexual passion gets “out of hand,” it’s usually the woman’s fault.
  5. Woman is subservient to man because she came out of his rib.
  6. The woman should never desire to teach the man but should always learn from him in subjection and quiet submission.
  7. Women were considered as important as men by Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth.
  8. Both husband and wife are equals in the family, the community, and the church.
  9. Wives and husbands are commanded to treat each other as equals in mutual submission.
  10. If a woman is unhappy in her subordinate role, she shows her sinful nature.
  11. Man’s superior strength and common sense show he’s more in the image of God than is woman.
  12. If a husband gets angry with his home situation, it is his wife’s fault for not preventing the problem.
  13. God calls women to be more humble and submissive to their husbands than their hus­ bands are to them.
  14. In marriage, both the husband the wife should make the important decisions, with both having the final word.
  15. Adam and Eve were made absolutely equal, out of the same substance.
  16. The Bible shows that Christian women can be prophets, leaders, wives, and mothers.
  17. It is acceptable for a woman to preach in the church.
  18. A Christian woman is disgraced if she is divorced because it shows she has failed.
  19. In the Old and New Testaments, God is spoken of as having female as well as male characteristics.
  20. A woman’s salvation will come through her husband.
  21. A Christian wife is not responsible for her husband’s behavior or feelings.
  22. The wife follows her husband’s leadership to achieve greater Christian unity in their marriage.
  23. Husbands and wives have God-given rights to discipline each other.
  24. The Bible uses female symbols for God and Jesus Christ.
  25. A Christian woman should be subject even to her non-Christian husband so he will be won over by her meek and quiet spirit.
  26. A Christian marriage should be based on equality between the husband and wife.
  27. Christian husbands are given the right to discipline their Christian wives as necessary to keep them on the Christian path, but wives are not granted the same rights by God.
  28. It is all right for a Christian woman to be divorced.
  29. God’s image and personality are seen equally in the forms of the female and the male.
  30. God grants a special blessing to wives who give up their desires for their husbands be­ cause these women are living in accordance with God’s plan for the family.
  31. Adam and Eve are equally responsible for the origin of sin.
  32. God intends for women to be free from the emotional burden which comes from the re­sponsibility of leadership.
  33. The Bible states that the equality of males and females is the Christian ideal.
  34. A Christian woman should divorce her husband only if he is unfaithful to her.
  • Subscale l: Female Physical and Emotional Independence Items 2, 3, 14, 22, 25, and 28.
  • Subscale 2: Female Submissiveness and Guilt Items 6, 11, 12, and 13
  • Subscale 3: Female Efficacy Items 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 33
  • Subscale 4: Female Submissiveness and Guilt Items 30 and 32
  • Subscale 5: Female Submissiveness and Guilt Items 19 and 24

Note: It is unclear what are the exact 6-point Likert response items. It appears that the responses could be “strongly disagree,” “moderately disagree,” “slightly disagree,” “slightly agree,” “moderately agree,” and “strong agree.”


Postovoit, L. E. (1990). The attitudes toward Christian women scale (ACWS): Initial efforts to­ wards the development of an instrument measuring patriarchal beliefs. Journal of Psychology and Chris­tianity, 2, 65- 72.

Subsequent Research: There is no further research available on this instrument at this time.