The Character Assessment Scale assesses personal character traits within the framework of an evangelical Christian commitment. This instrument is designed for the helping professional as a reliable and valid instrument for assessing a person’s moral strengths and weaknesses according to bib­lical standards. It is intended to be a re­ source tool within the therapeutic or counseling setting.


 The CAS is part of a family of similar instruments that endeavor to opera­tionalize the moral teaching of Christ as ex­ pressed by the New Testament authors. These include the Sinful Attitudes Inventory by Backus (1969, 1976) and Schmidt, Backus, and Oates (1978), as well as the Spiritual Leadership Qualities Inventory (Wichern, 1980-see review in this volume).

In the initial development of the instru­ment, Schmidt composed 300 true-false items consisting of a revised list of Backus’s seven deadly sins. Revisions were made to in order for the items to more fully encom­pass the interpersonal and behavioral di­mensions of the sins. Also, some of the traits were renamed to reflect a more psy­chological, contemporary emphasis. Seven corresponding virtues were added (character strengths) to the seven deadly sins, and two scales to measure an additional dimension (Honesty). Pretesting with a sample of 60 individuals eventually resulted in the selec­tion of 225 of these items for the final ver­sion of the instrument.

The test measures eight basic moral re­ sources divided into four attitudes of the heart (those dealing with Truth, Respect, Concern, and Anger) and four attitudes of the flesh (involving the use of Money, Time and Energy, Sexuality, and Bodily Health). Each of these character traits is composed of two subscales: a character strength and a related moral weakness. The score for each of the eight moral resources is derived from subtracting the weakness score from the strength score.

Practical Considerations:

 The CAS manual provides detailed step-by-step instructions for scoring the answer sheet to the instru­ment. Scoring the various subscale mea­ sures and plotting them along the response profile is a rather involved process, al­ though a computer program was available at one time from the author to automate scor­ing on computers running MS-DOS. Schmidt notes that once the scorer becomes familiar with the process, he or she can score an instrument by hand in seven to eight minutes.

Since the instrument is intended as a re­ source tool within the therapeutic setting, the manual provides very detailed guide­ lines for interpreting the results and debrief­ing those results with the client. Included are numerous biblical illustrations and in­ sight suggestions that can be shared with the client for each of the subscales.


In the CAS man­ual, Schmidt provides a detailed descriptive overview of the roughly 600 individuals from across America (92%) and Canada (8%) who completed the instrument (Schmidt, 1987, appendix A). The normative sample was composed of 54% female with an aver­ age age of 38 years and an average of 17 years of education. They represented 45 American states and 7 Canadian provinces. Sixty-four percent were married; 76% iden­tified themselves as Protestant; and the ma­jority of respondents were middle income. In terms of occupation, 19% were pastors and pastoral counselors and another 3% were secular counselors. Fourteen percent were homemakers and 15% were students. Seventy-five percent of the normative sam­ple were not receiving any treatment or counseling for emotional problems at the time of testing, whereas the remaining 25% were under psychological or psychiatric care. Most of the sample were regular church attenders.

Appendixes B and C of the manual de­ scribe the effects of various normative char­acteristics and demographic variables on CAS scale profiles. These include the rela­tionship between CAS scale profiles and the following demographic variables: age, sex, education, geographic location, marital sta­tus, occupation, income level, psychological treatment status, church attendance, and re­ligious denomination.


Cronbach’s alpha was computed across items for each of the eight basic sub­ scale measures. The resulting coefficient values ranged from 0.61 to 0.83 with an av­erage of 0.75, reflecting interitem consis­tency for the various subscales that are ade­ quate but not exceptionally high. There is a strong pattern of high intercorrelations among the various subscales.


 All subjects were asked before taking the test which of the eight moral resources they considered to be their strongest and weakest areas. A significantly higher percentage of respondents had test outcomes that agreed with their predic­tions than would be anticipated by chance (x55.4, < .0001). The same was true when counselors were asked to predict their client’s strongest and weakest resources (X23.7, <.001).

A final test of validity by Schmidt (1983) involved asking 25 seminary students to take the test a second time and purposely present themselves in the most positive a manner possible. This significantly in­ creased the Denial score in the instrument, the subscale used by the administrator to partially assess the validity of the client’s response.

The Character Assessment Scale

This_ test is designed to help you understand yourself better. It is based on the belief that a healthy personality reflects a balanced respect and concern for both yourself and other people. In particular, the test measures how you tend to use and invest your respect, concern, anger, money, time, body, and sexuality.

You will receive scores on 15 traits of character, plus a scale that suggests how carefully and honestly you have described yourself on the test. Your scores will be given back to you, along with descriptions of the traits and guidelines to help you interpret you scores.

Some statements will assume that you have a mate, a job, or an income. If you don’t now have one, then answer the question to describe how you think you would be if you did have a mate, a job, or an income.

To answer some of these questions honestly, you will have to stop and think for a moment. Do not be in a hurry. A good half the value of taking the test should be what you learn about yourself in responding to the items that make you stop and think.

If you simply cannot decide which answer to make, just skip the question. But answer as many questions as you possibly can because blank answers reduce the value of the test.

You are to mark your answers on the answer sheet. If statement number one is more true than false for you, then circle the T. If statement number one is more false than true, then circle the F.

Make all of your marks on the answer sheet, and do not mark on the pages of questions that follow.

  1. 1. At times I have done things which I know weren’t good for my body.
  2. 2. I enjoy laughing at myself when I do stupid things.
  3. When someone I know is happy, I feel almost as much joy myself in response.
  4. It is best to forgive people who hurt you, even when they don’t deserve it and might try the same thing again.
  5. The more money you have, the more responsibility you should feel to support others in need.
  6. I am deeply moved by the needs of others, and I spend most of my time working hard to help other people.
  7. 7. In looking at attractive members of the opposite sex, I always follow the rule “Admire, but don’t desire.
  8.  I would level with anyone who asked how much I weigh, how much exercise I get, or what things I put into my body.
  9.  I do not enjoy having so much to eat that afterwards all I feel like doing is just lying around until my stomach recovers.
  10.  People need religion’s and society’s taboos against sexual freedom.
  11. During the day, it is rare for me to check the time out of boredom.
  12. I imagine that I could be truly happy below the middle income bracket.
  13. I don’t like to feel angry, so I get it out of my system as quickly and politely as possible.
  14. I have no appetite for gossip.
  15.  I would not like to climb to a level in life where I would be above being hurt by other people.
  16. I sometimes enjoy looking down on others and feeling superior.
  17. I sometimes want to have sex primarily for my own pleasure.
  18. I am morally opposed to abortions and to mercy killing (withholding treatment to let medically hopeless people die).
  19. I always rejoice with people over pleasant surprises in their lives, even when they don’t seem to deserve such good luck.
  20.  One of the best ways to get back at enemies is being kind to them when they don’t deserve it.
  21.  I never splurge and buy things I don’t really need just for the fun of it.
  22. I enjoy dreaming about the future and then working hard to make my dream come true.
  23. Sex outside of marriage results in a dishonest cover-up with the spouse, and this causes more emotional problems than any affair is worth.
  24. When I’m around people who are talking about dieting or exercising, I would never exaggerate or cover up my behavior to impress them.
  25. I would not especially enjoy having a good wine with my evening meals every day.
  26. I don’t get very excited watching a fleshy love scene in a movie.
  27. I seldom find myself looking forward to going to bed and falling off to sleep.
  28.  It is not a top priority for me to have enough money and assets so that I won’t be poor in the future.
  29. I never act rude to people unless I have been repeatedly provoked by them.
  30. I am not bothered by people who seem to have no faults.
  31. When I see somebody embarrassed in public, I usually get a kick out of it.
  32.  These days there just isn’t much recognition or respect for the people who deserve it most.
  33. I am sometimes so tired I don’t want to do things I really believe in.
  34. In a group I like to let other people see what I don’t know so they can teach me things.
  35.  I am a sympathetic person, ready and willing to share the sorrow of anyone who is suffering from loss.
  36. When people hurt me, I usually feel sad and try to make up or work it out before I get angry with them.
  37. Learning to enjoy sharing your money is one way to protect yourself against hard times.
  38. I feel no need to pretend to anyone that I work any harder than I actually do.
  39. For married people who have had sex with others beside their spouses, I do not believe that “what spouses don’t know won’t hurt them.
  40.  Keeping my body fit and healthy is very important to me.
  41. Between meals I don’t think about food very often.
  42. Having some sexual inhibitions is necessary for mental health.
  43. The fear of failure and rejection very rarely keep me from doing my best.
  44. Labor unions shouldn’t try so hard to get the highest possible wages for their members.
  45. I would not feel any pleasure at seeing someone who had wronged me back his car into a telephone pole.
  46. When I am really mad, my anger often lasts for several days.
  47. When people get more recognition than they deserve, I like seeing them called down for making a mistake.
  48. If other people don’t appreciate me, it results from their own limitations.
  49. When I am short on money, I am sometimes reluctant to give to a needy cause or person.
  50. I enjoy serving others behind the scenes more than impressing them from where all can see.
  51.  I can be a pretty good companion and friend for a person who is feeling miserable.
  52. I am a patient person.
  53. I don’t want anyone to notice when I give away money.
  54. I generally work harder when I am alone than I do when someone is watching me.
  55. Satisfying my partner’s sexual needs gives me more enjoyment than having my own needs satisfied.
  56.  I am careful to get enough exercise and to watch what I put into my body.
  57. When I am uptight, depressed, or bored, I am not tempted to drink or take pills.
  58. I don’t enjoy thinking of new and unusual ways to increase my pleasure in making love.
  59. I seldom get to the point where I feel like giving up and have to force myself to keep at it.
  60. I feel no need to “keep up with the Joneses” by having as much or more money and possessions than my friends.
  61. It’s hard to be generous unless you have enough money to afford it.
  62. I usually let resentments grow into long-range grudges because I don’t know how to express my anger constructively.
  63. I sometimes resent it when a person I know is honored for some achievement.
  64. I usually get initated when someone in authority over me pulls rank and tells me what to do.
  65. When people take advantage of me or hurt me intentionally, I don’t always forgive them right away.
  66.  I care more about making others happy and glorifying God than I do about making sure my life is happy.
  67. I am very considerate and sensitive to the feelings of others.
  68. I am not one to appear as if I am trying to settle an argument when I am really still enjoying it.
  69. I would not feel embarrassed if people found out how much money I contribute to people in need.
  70. I am a very intense person-whether working or playing, I give it all I’ve got.
  71. When it comes to lovemaking, I am unselfish.
  72. Except for times of rest, it is important for me to stay as alert and energetic as I can.
  73. Within the last week, I have not regretted anything that I have eaten.
  74. I don’t like to read dirty books.
  75. When I get depressed, I can usually stay on top of it and keep going.
  76. Although it’s no fun being sick, I really do enjoy having such a good excuse to do nothing for awhile.
  77. If I charge something in a store and they keep forgetting to bill me, I figure that’s their problem.
  78. Sometimes when I am mad at people, I enjoy just clamming up and watching them climb the walls.
  79. I am sometimes envious and even bitter about the good fortune of others.
  80. It is sad that there are so many boring, unintelligent, and uneducated people in the world.
  81. At times I have been so preoccupied with my own needs that I didn’t care very much how people around me felt.
  82. I easily accept and support the leadership of those over me in a group.
  83.  I can’t think of any situation where I would act more concerned about other people than I really feel.
  84. Under no circumstances would I ever act like I had forgiven someone when I knew in my heart that I hadn’t done it yet.
  85. When I don’t have enough money to pay for something I want, I learn not to want it so much.
  86. I’m a “self-starter”: I like to get myself going and keep busy at work.
  87. I believe it is always best if a bride and groom can both go to the altar as virgins.
  88. Being a success at my work depends largely on my health and physical attractiveness.
  89. I do not eat so much food that I am overweight.
  90. Talking about genitals and the sexual act in obscene terms is very repulsive to me.
  91. The amount of passion in act of love-making is primarily determined by energy, physical attractiveness, and “chemistry.”
  92. Often I feel like there is nothing worth doing at the present time.
  93. One of the nice things about being rich would be not giving a dam what anybody else thought of me.
  94. I seem to have more enemies than most other people do.
  95. When I am standing near someone much more popular, wealthy, or intelligent than I am, it makes me feel like a small and worthless person by comparison.
  96. We all try to avoid feeling lonely, confused, and afraid, and I have succeeded at this better than most.
  97. Sometimes I am too proud to admit that I have made a mistake or to let someone else teach me something I don’t know.
  98. I would never try to impress someone else by acting more modest and humble than I feel.
  99. When I hear a friend has suffered a loss, I seldom act more concerned and sympathetic than I really am.
  100. When I am in an argument, I almost always try to settle it with peaceful compromise before walking away.
  101. I enjoy spending my money more when I know that I have already given a fair share of it to those who need it more than I do.
  102. I especially enjoy being with people who like to work hard at whatever they do.
  103. I consistently try not to imagine having intercourse with someone other than my spouse.
  104. I am an energetic and alert person because I have been careful about putting food, alcohol, and drugs into my body.
  105. Within the past year, I have not done or said anything while using drugs or alcohol which I later regretted.
  106. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the pleasure of tasting and eating food that I am inconsiderate of those around me at the time.
  107. People who talk about finding meaning in making love are mostly trying to justify the natural experience of pleasure.
  108. Some people think of me as spoiled.
  109. Sometimes I like to daydream and wonder what it would be like to have lots of money.
  110. It really gripes me the way some people are forgiven without being punished for their mistakes.
  111. Some people seem to have it easy, and when I see them get something else they have wanted, I usually have to fight feeling sorry for myself.
  112. I often realize that I could help other people so much more if only they could see things my way.
  113. To get a point across, sometimes I exaggerate or leave out part of the truth.
  114. When God or other people help me do something, I usually express my appreciation honestly without secretly giving myself more credit than I let on.
  115. I really get worked up identifying with the characters in a good movie or TV drama.
  116. When I don’t know how to settle an argument with a loved one, I am usually willing to bring in another person to help us.
  117. I include in my regular budget giving a certain portion of my income to people less fortunate than I.
  118. A vacation “re-creates” me, and leaves me all fresh and ready to go back to work.
  119. People who wait until their wedding night to enjoy intercourse are smart.
  120. I can experience and enjoy no more of life than my body will let me, so I try hard to keep it in good shape.
  121. I don’t work hard enough to keep my appearance pleasant and attractive.
  122. When there are delicious foods around, I simply cannot eat just a little and stop there.
  123. When I see a particularly attractive member of the opposite sex, I’ll sometimes wonder what he or she would look like undressed.
  124. Although the doctor cannot explain why, I just seem to be low on energy.
  125. It gives me pleasure to count the money in my pocket, purse, or bank account to see just how much money I have.
  126. I sometimes enjoy planning elaborate ways of getting even with people who intentionally hurt me.
  127. I sometimes can’t keep from spreading bad news about someone I know, even when I don’t have anything against the person.
  128. In some situations, I try to hide how much I’m looking down on others, and how I think of myself.
  129. Sometimes I like to brag on myself a little bit.
  130. Every human being can grow to be a positive, unselfish person, regardless of intelligence, health, or present moral habits.
  131. When I hear of someone I know who has suffered a loss, my heart instantly goes out to them.
  132. I am always kind and polite to strangers, even when I am worked up or mad about something.
  133. I believe I could learn to be content no matter what kind of income I have.
  134. Doing things for others usually turns me on, and leaves me feeling I have more energy than I had to start with.
  135. Adultery is stealing-it’s taking what belongs to somebody else.
  136. Sexually, I find that at times forbidden fruit seems a little extra tasty to me.
  137. I don’t take very good care of my body.
  138. Other people tell me I am now physically or emotionally dependent on drugs or alcohol.
  139. The idea of making love with a complete stranger someimes appeals to me.
  140. I sometimes get to the point where I feel totally worthless as a person.
  141. Nearly all people who give away money do it mostly for show or for a tax break.
  142. Some of my resentments have lasted for months and months.
  143. I sometimes have to hide a twinge of pleasure at watching the embarrassment of people more popular than I.
  144. Sometimes I try to act humbly interested and impressed with someone when I really just want that person to be impressed with me.
  145. Sometimes I feel a little bit relieved or tickled when a very vain person is embarrassed.
  146. When I experience the vastness and beauty of nature, my heart and mind humbly bow down before the God who created it.
  147. When people I know are hurting, it hurts me, and I always try my best to help them out.
  148. I hate being in an argument, and I always try to settle it as fairly and quickly as possible.
  149. If I were a millionaire, I would give money secretly to people who really need it.
  150.  When I tell people I’ll do something, they can always count on me to be on time and ready to go.
  151. I don’t seem to have a great deal of will power.
  152. When two unmarried people both want to make love just for pleasure, I believe they will usually feel satisfied afterward.
  153. When I eat and talk about food, I am not very careful to be considerate of those around me who are struggling with their weight.
  154. Having a little booze or drugs helps me to relax, and talk more easily with people I don’t know very well.
  155. At times the thought of sex gets stronger and stronger until I have satisfied myself.
  156. People take me for granted-no one really appreciates the effort I make.
  157. The security that comes from a good income is a top priority for my future.
  158. Sometimes I secretly try to get back at people who have done me wrong.
  159. I try to hide that little bit of resentment I sometimes feel when lucky people get another lucky break.
  160. When I get into an argument, I usually know when I am right and the other person is wrong.
  161. At times I have been so mad that I have said something hurtful that I later regretted.
  162. I nearly always practice building others up by pointing out their strengths and believing in them to put those strengths to work.
  163. The more I cling to my own security when others need me to act with courage, the more insecure I get.
  164. I don’t usually express anger too quickly because I have learned to hold my tongue.
  165. When I give someone money, I don’t expect anything in return, not even appreciation.
  166. I am not extremely careful about wasting money.
  167. I have never been described as an overly optimistic person.
  168. Under certain circumstances, having a secret love affair could help a person’s marriage more than it would hurt it.
  169. I don’t exercise as often as I need to keep my body fit and trim.
  170. My use of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, or food has taken a toll on my health and probably has reduced my life expectancy by more than a year.
  171. Sometimes I like to look at the pictures in pinup magazines.
  172. I could accomplish a lot more in life if I could just get a few decent breaks.
  173. To succeed in business, it helps to be a little bit deceptive and not always tell the entire truth.
  174.  Sometimes I might exaggerate or pass on a rumor about a person who has hurt my feelings.
  175. I sometimes get preoccupied imagining the misery others must be feeling, but it usually makes me feel a little better about my own life.
  176. I don’t rely very much on things I can’t predict or control.
  177. At times I imagine money to be more important than it really is.
  178. My life clearly reflects the belief that my most important responsibility is to love and serve God.
  179. Playing it safe in life is risky business, so I usually take the risks getting involved.
  180. When I feel like talking out quickly in anger, I usually restrain myself until I can think of something more constructive to say.
  181. I am seldom the first one to apologize to end an argument.
  182. I give to church or charities only from what I have left over from my other expenses.
  183. When the going gets tough, my concentration and effort seem to drop off a bit.
  184. To ensure a healthy sexual relationship in marriage, in some cases it can help if two people try making love before they get married.
  185. It is not a high priority now for me to have good health in my old age because my personal habits reflect this lack of concern.
  186. In the past year, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, I have probably said or done something that hurt someone else.
  187. Sometimes I am frustrated by my unfulfilled sexual needs.
  188. I sometimes arrange it so that I can goof off without anybody knowing it.
  189. I would be embarrassed if other people knew how much time I spend thinking about money.
  1. Sometimes I enjoy the sense of power and energy I get when I express my anger.
  1. I like to daydream about what my life would be like if I were more intelligent or good-looking.
  1. I take pride in being able to solve most of my problems without help.
  1. I occasionally put off until tomorrow things I could just as easily do today.
  1. I believe that a loving God created and rules over the universe and that I must answer to God for my actions both now and after death.
  2. Some people suffer more than their share of hurt and sadness, and I feel especially drawn to helping these people.
  3. I have a lot of trouble putting myself in another’s place and feeling what that person must feel in the situation.
  4. To forgive someone who has hurt me is really hard for me.
  5. Sometimes I think that if I always had enough money, I would always be happy.
  6. When I’m in a group that’s doing something, I’m generally not one of the hardest workers.
  7. People who have intercourse with only one person in their lives will never know what good times they have missed.
  8. Sometimes I feel a bit down because I haven’t worked hard enough to stay healthy and trim.
  9. It would bother me if my family and friends found out about all the times I put things into my body that aren’t good for it.
  10. If a person could make sure no one would find out, a one-night sexual affair wouldn’t hurt his and her marriage much.
  11. I sometimes try to make others think that I am more ambitious, concerned, or busy than I really am.
  12.  It really gets to me when I see how other people flaunt their new possessions.
  13. At times I wonder how I can get even with someone who has done me wrong.
  14. I often spend time wondering what it would be like to be rich and famous.
  15. Sometimes life seems like a big contest, and I have become skilled at the art of being a winner.
  16. I have sometimes gotten a little excited just thinking about sex.
  17. Guilt is usually a constructive feeling for me, and so I react fairly well to criticism.
  18. The people I respect the most are those who have become famous by accomplishing great things.
  19. When my friends are feeling very up and very down, I seem to draw a blank and don’t know how to respond emotionally.
  20. When I am in the middle of an argument, I am seldom open-minded or trying to learn something from the other person involved.
  21. I never give money to strangers who ask for a handout.
  22. When someone comes up to me and asks, “Will you do me a favor?” my first reaction is negative.
  23. I would rather marry an experienced lover than a virgin.
  24. I am not very faithful to follow doctors’ advice in keeping myself fit and healthy.
  25. Within the past month, I have probably lied about or sneaked a drink, a smoke, a pill, or a fattening snack.
  26. I have not been completely honest with my spouse concerning my sexual behavior.
  27. The actions of other people have caused most of my problems.
  28. I enjoy keeping in reserve a supply or stash of money that no one else knows about.
  29. I sometimes lose control of what I say or do when I get mad.
  30. I often compare myself to others in my mind.
  31. Due to my questioning mind, I have trouble putting much pure faith in anything or anyone.
  32. I don’t always stop eating when I should.


 The instrument, answer sheets, and manual can be obtained from:

Paul F. Schmidt

1209 West Main Street Shelbyville, Kentucky, 40065

Schmidt, P. F., (1987). Manual for use of the Character Assessment Scale (3rd ed.). Shelbyville, Kentucky: Institute for Character Development.

All rights are reserved on this instrument.

Subsequent Research:

Boivin, M. J., Beuthin, T. M., & Hauger, G., (1993). Why Christian students leave Christian col­ leges: Evaluating the dynamics of adjustment in a Christian community. The Journal of the Freshman Year Experience, 5, 93-125.

Elzerrnan, J. H., & Boivin, M. J. (1987). The assessment of Christian maturity, personality, and psychopathology among college students. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 6, 50-64.

Schmidt, P. F., (I 983). Manual for use of the Character Assessment Scale (2nd ed.). Shelbyville, Kentucky: Institute for Character Development.

Underwood, L. K., Maes, B. J., Alstadt, L.A., Boivin, M. J. (1996). Evaluating changes in so­cial attitudes, character traits, and liberal-arts abili­ ties during a four-year program at a Christian col­lege. Research on Christian Higher Education, 3, 115-128.


Backus, D. W. (1969). The seven deadly sins: Their meaning and measurement. Unpublished doc­ toral dissertation, University of Minnesota. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms.

Backus, D. W. (1976). The seven deadly sins: Their meaning and measurement. In W. Donaldson (Ed.), Research in Mental Health and Religious Be­havior, Atlanta: Psychological Studies Institute, 444-448.

Schmidt, P. F., Backus, D.W., Oates, W.E. (1978) The Sinful Attitudes Inventory: A manual for administration, scoring, interpretation, and follow­ up counseling. Unpublished manuscript.

Wichern, F. B. (1980) The Spiritual Leadership Qualities Inventory: Manual for administration and instruction. Available from the author, 300 Northview, Richardson, TX 75080. Unpublished manuscript.