The Committed-Consensual Mea­ sures are scales designed to tap different ways of being religious across a wide range of religious traditions. The scales emphasize the cognitive structuring of religious beliefs rather than the content of specific religious beliefs. References are made to religion, God, church, and the bible; but there are no specific references to Jesus Christ or other issues that might be divisive across the broad Judea-Christian tradition. Originally, Allen and Spilka (I 967) de­ signed the instrument to help clarify the re­lationship between religiousness and preju­dice. The goal was to identify two ways of cognitively structuring religious beliefs that would relate in different ways to racial prej­udice. Conceptually, consensual religion was conceived of as more dogmatic and thus related to higher prejudice; committed religion was conceived of as less dogmatic and thus related to lower prejudice. In addi­tion, it was hoped these types of religious­ ness would not be confounded with pathol­ogy or religious intensity.


The measurement of commit­ ted and consensual religion has undergone a series of transformations. The original ver­sion of the instrument (Allen & Spilka, 1967) had an interview format. Later ver­sions (Spilka, Read, Allen, & Dailey, I 968; Spilka & Mullin, 1977) were redesigned into a questionnaire format to facilitate ad­ ministration.

The interview version of committed and consensual religion taps five cognitive components of religious belief: content, clarity, complexity, flexibility, and importance. Committed religion is anchored in abstract principles that: (a) have exact meanings, (b) involve a large number of categories or ele­ments, (c) are open for frank and thoughtful examination, and (d) are of central impor­tance for the individual. Consensual religion is based upon beliefs that are concrete and: have vague implications, (b) have few categories or elements, (c) are closed to dif­fering opinions, and (d) have limited impact on the overall life of the individual. These elements of religious belief are elicited through a series of questions in an interview that typically lasts one half hour to an hour. Allen and Spilka (1967) did not present the actual questions used in the interview. How­ ever, Raschke (1973) described the process as a “… semi structured interview using questions centering around typical belief content areas such as God, prayer, Bible, church, faith, etc.” (p. 339).

The questionnaire version of committed and consensual religion utilizes a Likert-like format. There are 15 committed and 13 con­ sensual items. Several of these items over­ lap with the Allport and Ross (1967) Reli­gious Orientation Scale. The literature generally suggest that the distinction be­ tween consensual and committed religion, like that of extrinsic and intrinsic religion, taps the distinction between ‘used’ vs. ‘lived’ faith (Spilka, 1976). However, as will be discussed in more detail later, the overlap between intrinsic and committed religion seems to be greater than the overlap between extrinsic and consensual religion.

Practical Considerations:

Several problems make the consensual and committed mea­ sures difficult to use. First, in theory, consensual and commit­ ted religion represent the endpoints of a bipolar dimension. Yet, the two measures consistently show a moderate but positive correlation (Spilka, 1977). Second, although committed and intrinsic religion seem to overlap, the relationship between consen­sual and extrinsic religion has always been modest (Spilka, 1977). This suggests that there are at least two fairly independent ver­sions of utilitarian religion and these differ­ences have never been clarified. In recent years, measures of intrinsic/extrinsic faith have tended to supplant measures of com­ mitted/consensual faith. As a result, the unique aspects of consensual faith may have been lost in the literature.

It becomes apparent that many of the consensual items measure the importance of religious worship. Concern for rituals of worship could derive from a ‘cultural’ faith or a ‘personal’ faith. Religious people could recognize the significance of rituals of wor­ship because they were raised with these rit­uals (cultural) or because these rituals pro­ vide an avenue of communication and worship with a personal God (personal). The second possibility might partially ex­ plain the positive relationship between con­ sensual and intrinsic faith (Spilka, Minton, Sizemore, & Stout, 1977). Such differing motivations for worship might cloud the meaning of the consensual scale.


The Committed­ Consensual Measures have been used with a wide range of participants. However, there is no manual for the instrument, and norms for the instrument have not been published.


In the original article by Allen and Spilka, reliability for scoring the results of the interview were reported. Scorers were given a four-hour training session and then their ability to assess participant responses in terms of the five elements of consensual and committed religion was assessed. Relia­bility amongst the scorers seemed to be quite high. Using an analysis of variance technique, the coefficient of reliability across the five elements was .93. With the questionnaire version of consen­sual and committed, Spilka et al. (1977) re­ ported the Kuder-Richardson 20 estimates of reliability. For committed religion, the estimate was .93. For consensual religion, the estimate was .84.


Spilka (1977) looked at the rela­tionship between utilitarianism and consen­sual and committed faith. Ninety Christian college students were given several ques­tionnaires measuring acceptance or rejection of materialism and self-aggrandize­ment. Committed religion was inversely related to materialism and success achieve­ment. Consensual religion was directly re­lated to status concern and success achieve­ment. Similar relationships were found with the Allport and Ross (1967) and the Hoge (1972) intrinsic and extrinsic measures.

Commited-Consensual Measures

Indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree to each statemen below by using the follow­ ing scale.

  • 1 = Strongly Disagree
  • 2 = Moderatley Disagree
  • 3 = Slightly Disagree
  • 4 = Slightly Agree
  • 5 = Moderatley Agree
  • 6 = Strongly Agree
  1. One of the most important aspects of religion is the religious ceremonies. (Cn)
  2. I try hard to carry my religion over into all my other dealings in life. (Cm)
  3. My ideas about religion are one of the most important parts of my philosophy of life. (Cm)
  4. Religion is most real to me during my attendance at public church or religious services. (Cn)
  5. I do not think that the sequences of prayers, songs, etc., is very important in religious services. (Cn)
  6. Quite often I have been keenly aware of the presence of God or the Divine Being. (Cm)
  7. Every person needs to have the feeling of security given by a church. (Cn)
  8. Tender concern for others is a means of finding joy in one’s religion. (Cm)
  9. The more a religious service is ritualized the more it has meaning for me. (Cn)
  10. The purpose of prayer is to secure a happy and peaceful life. (Cn)
  11. The truly religious person believes honestly and wholeheartedly in the doctrines of his church. (Cn)
  12. My interest in and real commitment to religion is greater now than when I first joined the church. (Cm)
  13. Religion is a subject in which I am not particularly interested. (Cm – reverse scored)
  14. It is important to me to spend periods of time in private thought and meditation. (Cm)
  15. The ritual of worship is a very important part of religion. (Cn)
  16. My religious beliefs are what really lie behind my whole approach to life. (Cm)
  17. I like to think that people all over are going through nearly the same ritual in their reli­gious worship. (Cn)
  18. I think that the placement and treatment of the various articles of worship is very impor­tant in a worship service. (Cn)
  19. I often think about matters relating to religion. (Cm)
  20. Believing as I do about religion is very important to being the kind of person I want to be. (Cm)
  21. The precision and orderliness with which religious ceremonies are performed is impor­tant. (Cn).
  22. Religion is especially important to me because it answers many questions about the meaning of life. (Cm)
  23. It is important to me that religious services be standardized. (Cn)
  24. If my ideas about religion were different, I believe that my way of life would be very different. (Cm)
  25. The aim of missionaries should be to establish church buildings where religious services and ceremonies can be conducted. (Cn)
  26. I read literature about my faith or church. (Cm)
    1. yes (b) no
  27. If I were joining a church group, I would prefer to join (l) a Bible study group or (2) a social fellowship. (Cm)I would prefer to join ( l)I probably would prefer to join ( l)I probably would prefer to join (2)

    I would prefer to join (2)

  28. How much time during the week would you say you spend reading the Bible and other religious literature? (Cm)
  • one hour or more
  • one-half hour
  • none

Cm-item measures Committed form of personal religion Cn-item measures Consensual form of personal religion


Allen, R. 0., & Spilka, B. (1967). Committed and consensual religion: A specification of religion­ prejudice relationships. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 6, 191-206.

Spilka, B., Minton, B., Sizemore, D., & Stout,L. (1977). Death and personal faith: A psychomet­ric investigation. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 16, 169-178.

Subsequent Research:

Little research work has been done with the consensual-commit­ ted measures. Instead, the scientific study of religion has utilized the related intrinsic-ex­trinsic constructs to a far greater degree.


Allport, G. W., & Ross, J.M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Per­ sonality and Social Psychology, 5,432-433.

Hoge, D. R. (1972). A validated intrinsic reli­gious motivation scale. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 369-376.

Raschke, V. (1973). Dogmatism and committed and consensual religion. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 12, 339-344.

Spilka, B. (1976). The complete person: Some theoretical views and research findings for a theo­ logical-psychology of religion. Journal of Psychol­ ogy and Theology, 4,15-24.

Spilka, B. (1977). Utilitarianism and personal faith. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 5, 226–223.

Spilka, B., & Mullin, M. (1977). Personal reli­ gion and psychosocial schemata: A research approach to a theological psychology of religion. Character Potential, 8, 57-66.

Spilka, B., Read, S., Allen, R. 0., & Dailey, K. A. (1968 December). Specificity vs. generality: The criterion problem in religious measurement. Paper presented at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dal­ las, TX.