Dogmatism Scale (Form E)

Rokeach, M. (1960). The open and closed mind. New York: Basic Books.

Comments: This 40-item scale assesses individual differences in openness or closedness of belief systems. All the statements express an opinion and all statements are written in the negative. The items are based upon three dimensions of belief systems: belief-disbelief, central-peripheral, and time-perspective. The scale was refined through item analyses. Form E is the final version of the scale. In addition, the scale also assesses general authoritarianism and general intolerance. This is the most frequently cited instrument to measure dogmatism.

Scale Construction: Statements that reflected the characteristics of open and closed systems were written. Some of the items were the result of statements made by people who were considered to be closed-minded, while nine items came from the work of others. The scale went through five revisions. The initial scale contained 57 items; Form B had 43 items; Form C had 36 items; and Form D had 66 items. Forty items were taken from Form D and these became the final version, Form E.

Sample: Reliability data were gathered from samples of 959 university students attending Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Purdue University in the Midwest; 207 university students attending New York University and Brooklyn College in New York; and 217 university students attending the University College in London as well as another British university. A group of 121 destitute veterans in New York and sample of 60 automobile factory workers participated in Great Britain.

Reliability: Corrected reliability for Form A was 0.70 and 0.75 for Form B. Form C had reliabilities lower than antici- pated and, therefore, Form D contained 30 new items. The corrected reliability for Form D was 0.91. Twenty-six items were deleted in order to shorten the scale. Form E had a corrected reliability of 0.81 for the British college sample and

0.78 for the British automobile workers. Odd-even reliability coefficients corrected by the Spearman-Brown formula for six samples of American and British college students ranged from 0.68 (Ohio State University) to 0.85 (Ohio State University). Test-retest reliabilities over a five- to six-month period were 0.71 for 58 Ohio State University students, and over a one-month period: 0.84 for 17 veterans. Overall, reliabilities ranged from 0.68 to 0.93.

Validity: Two construct validity studies were conducted using known high and low dogmatic groups. In the first study, no significant differences were found between graduate students selected by their college professors to be in one or the other group. However, in the second study, when psychology graduate students selected other students as most and least dogmatic, significant differences were found. Other researchers have conducted studies to establish construct, predictive, concurrent, and criterion validity.

Definition of Dimensions: The scale contains items involving the belief-disbelief dimension (four items) and items involving the central-peripheral dimension (36 items). The belief-disbelief dimension consists of isolation within and between belief, which deals with the accentuation of differences between the belief and the disbelief systems (1) and the coexistence of contradictions within the belief system (2 and 3) as well as relative amount of knowledge possessed (4). The central-peripheral dimension consists of specific content of primitive beliefs, which deals with the beliefs regarding the aloneness, isolation, and helplessness of man (5, 6, 7, and 8), beliefs regarding the uncertainty of the future (9, 10, 11, 12, and 13), beliefs about self-adequacy and inadequacy (14), and self-aggrandizement as a defense against self-inadequacy (15, 16, and 17). Formal content of the intermediate belief region deals with authoritarianism (18 and 19), belief in the cause (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26), and intolerance (27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33). Inter- relations among primitive, intermediate, and peripheral beliefs deal with the tendency to make a party-line change (34 and 35), narrowing (36), attitude toward the past, present, and future (37), and knowing the future (38, 39, and 40).

Data Analysis: Means and standard deviations are reported as well as normative data for the original samples on all five forms of the scale.


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McColskey, W., et al. (1985). Predictors of principals’ reliance on formal and informal sources of information. Evaluation and Policy Analysis 7:427–36.

Spivey, J. R. (1975). Dogmatism and the secondary social studies teachers’ perspective. Illinois School Research 11:26–31.

Ward, G. R., et al. (1978). Personality profiles and dogmatism in undergraduate teacher education students. Psychology in the Schools 15:33–36.

Dogmatism Scale

1. The United States and Russia have just about nothing in common.
2. The highest form of government is a democracy and the highest form of democracy is run by those who are most intelligent.
3. Even though freedom of speech for all groups is a worthwhile goal, it is unfortunately necessary to restrict the freedom of certain political groups.
4. It is only natural that a person would have a much better acquaintance with ideas he believes in than with ideas he opposes.
5. Man on his own is a helpless and miserable creature.

6. Fundamentally, the world we live in is a pretty lonesome place.
7. Most people just don’t give a “damn” for others.
8. I’d like it if I could find someone who would tell me how to solve my personal problems.
9. It is only natural for a person to be rather fearful of the future.
10. There is so much to be done and so little time to do it in.
11. Once I get wound up in a heated discussion I just can’t stop.
12. In a discussion I often find it necessary to repeat myself several times to make sure I am being understood.
13. In a heated discussion I generally become so absorbed in what I am going to say that I forget to listen to what the others are saying.
14. It is better to be a dead hero than to be a live coward.
15. While I don’t like to admit this even to myself, my secret ambition is to become a great man, like Einstein, or Beethoven, or Shakespeare.
16. The main thing in life is for a person to want to do something important.
17. If given the chance I would do something of great benefit to the world.
18. In the history of mankind there have probably been just a handful of really great thinkers.
19. There are a number of people I have come to hate because of the things they stand for.
20. A man who does not believe in some great cause has not really lived.
21. It is only when a person devotes himself to an idea or cause that life becomes meaningful.
22. Of all the different philosophies which exist in this world there is probably only one which is correct.
23. A person who gets enthusiastic about too many causes is likely to be a pretty “wishy-washy” sort of person.
24. To compromise with our political opponents is dangerous because it usually leads to the betrayal of our own side.
25. When it comes to differences of opinion in religion we must be careful not to compromise with those who believe differently from the way we do.
26. In times like these, a person must be pretty selfish if he considers primarily his own happiness.
27. The worst crime a person could commit is to attack publicly the people who believe in the same thing he does.
28. In times like these it is often necessary to be more on guard against ideas put out by people or groups in one’s own camp than by those in the opposing camp.
29. A group which tolerates too much differences of opinion among its own members cannot exist for long.
30. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are for the truth and those who are against the truth.
31. My blood boils whenever a person stubbornly refuses to admit he’s wrong.
32. A person who thinks primarily of his own happiness is beneath contempt.
33. Most of the ideas which get printed nowadays aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
34. In this complicated world of ours the only way we can know what’s going on is to rely on leaders or experts who can be trusted.
35. It is often desirable to reserve judgment about what’s going on until one has had a chance to hear the opinions of those one respects.
36. In the long run the best way to live is to pick friends and associates whose tastes and beliefs are the same as one’s own.
37. The present is all too often full of unhappiness. It is only the future that counts.
38. If a man is to accomplish his mission in life, it is sometimes necessary to gamble “all or nothing at all.”
39. Unfortunately, a good many people with whom I have discussed important social and moral problems don’t really understand what’s going on.
40. Most people just don’t know what’s good for them.


Scoring: I agree a little = 1; I agree on the whole = 2; I agree very much = 3; I disagree a little = −1; I disagree on the whole = −2; and I disagree very much = −3. For scoring purposes, 4 is added to each item score, thus creating a 1–7 scale.