The Fundamentalism Scale was revised from the Religious Attitude Inven­tory developed by William E. Broen (1957a; (also reviewed in this volume). Items per­taining to this measure assess the extent to which one subscribes to the orthodox tenets of the Christian faith with an emphasis on a literal interpretation of the Bible as the word of God, the essential sinfulness of man, and the need for and rightful fear of a punishing God. Individuals scoring low on this scale would tend to adopt a more liberal view of the Scriptures and a humanistic view of the human condition, with persons having the ability to realize their innate potential through their own efforts apart from God.


Gorsuch and three of his grad­uate students reviewed all of the fundamentalism/nonfundamentalism items in Broen’s (1957a) original scale (see 8.9 in this vol­ume for a review of Broen’s instrument). They retained only those items that they could unanimously agree on as retaining face validity or relevance with regard to the religious trait of fundamentalism (33 items in all from Broen’s original 58). Respon­dents simply note whether they agree or dis­ agree with a series of statements.

Practical Considerations:

The instrument is relatively straightforward and easily admin­istered in a variety of settings. The scale is useful for both religious and nonreligious groups, although the instrument generally assumes a Christian orientation. In terms of scoring, Gorsuch simply added up the number of fundamentalism items with which the respondent agreed. For those fundmamen­talism items that are reverse worded (de­ noted by an asterisk in the scale), disagree­ing with that statement increments the total score by one.


In an unpublished study, Gorsuch administered his selected portion of Broen’s fundamentalism items in the Religious Attitude Questionnaire to 50 students (32 males, 18 females) at Texas Christian University. The mean score on the Fundamentalism Scale was 15.34 (SD = 5.12). Gorsuch and Smith (1983) adminis­tered their revised version of Broen’s origi­nal instrument to 164 undergraduate stu­ dents who were taking social science, nursing, and religion courses at a small Christian college. The Fundamentalism Scale mean was 23.94 (SD = 5.29).


Reliability coefficients are un­ available for Gorsuch and Smith’s (1983) 33-item Fundamentalism Scale. However, in an unpublished study, Gorsuch adminis­tered Broen’s Religious Attitude Inventory to 50 students (32 males, 18 females) at Texas Christian University. The interitem consistency coefficient for all of the funda­mentalism items in Broen’s instrument was 0.76 (K-Richardson formula), which would give some indication of what might be ex­pected with Gorsuch and Smith’s version.


No validity measures are available for Gorsuch and Smith’s (1983) version of the Fundamentalism Scale. The following might give some indication of the construct validity of this measure. In an unpublished study, Lawrence Wrightman and a student administered Broen’s Religious Attitude In­ventory to college students attending Bel­mont College, Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL), and Central Michigan University. They then correlated both the “Nearness to God” and “Fundamentalism” scores with scores from the Dimensions of the Philosophies of Human Nature Scale developed by Larry Wrightman. For male students at Central Michigan University, scores on the Fundamentalism Scale were significantly corre­lated with how negatively one viewed human nature (r = 0.32), with the extent to which one viewed persons as being less than altruistic (r = 0.31), and with the extent to which one viewed persons as being less than independent agents (r = 0.36). Students at Wheaton College had a significant correla­tion between fundamentalism and indepen­dence (lack of) domain of their views on human nature (r = 0.29). The findings were similar for the female students.


Directions: Circle the A if you agree with a statement, and circle the D if you disagree with the statement. Make a choice for each statement. Do not spend too much time on any one statement. We realize the difficulty a person who does not believe in the existence of a God might have in answering a statement such as “God watches over us.” (Disagree might be in­terpreted as meaning that “there is a God who does not watch over us.”) If you do not believe in the existence of a God, show your disagreement with the concept by circling the disagree when you come to such a statement.

  • A D 1. Christ died for sinners.
  • A D 2. There is really no such a place as Hell.*
  • A D 3. It is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not because of our own works that we are made righteous before God.
  • A D 4. Christ’s simple message of concern for your fellow man has been twisted by the superstitious mysticism of such men as Paul.*
  • A D 5. The death of Christ on the cross was necessary to blot out man’s sin and make him acceptable in the eyes of God.
  • A D 6. “God” is an abstract concept roughly equivalent to the concept “Nature.”*
  • A D 7. Man is born in sin.
  • A D 8. Man’s essential nature is good.*
  • A D 9. Man is by nature sinful and unclean.
  • A D l0. The stories of miracles in the Bible are like the parables in that they have some deeper meaning or moral but are not to be taken literally.*
  • A D 11. The Bible is the word of God and must be believed in its entirety.
  • A D 12. Man has a spark of the divine in him which must be made to blossom more fully.*
  • A D 13. Sin brings forth the wrath of God.
  • A D 14. A person should follow his own conscience in deciding right and wrong.*
  • A D 15. The most important idea on religion is the Golden Rule.*
  • A D 16. The wrath of God is a terrible thing.
  • A D 17. The Scriptures should be interpreted with the constant exercise of reason.*
  • A D 18. Everyone will be called before God at the judgment day to answer for his sins.
  • A D 19. Everyone has sinned and deserves punishment for his sins.
  • A D 20. The church is important because it is an effective agency for organizing the social life of a community.*
  • A D 21. No one should question the authority of the Bible.
  • A D 22. The content of various doctrines is unimportant. What really matters is that they help those who believe in them to lead better lives.*
  • A D 23. Because of his terrible sinfulness, man has been eternally damned unless he accepts Christ as his savior.
  • A D 24. Religion is a search for understanding, truth, love, and beauty in human life.*
  • A D 25. Every person born into this world deserves God’s wrath and damnation.
  • A D 26. The world is full of condemned sinners.
  • A D 27. The Devil can enter a man’s body and take control.
  • A D 28. The people of the world must repent before it is too late and they find them- selves in Hell.
  • A D 29. The Christian must lead a strict life, away from worldly amusements.
  • A D 30. In his natural state of sin, man is too evil to communicate with God.
  • A D 31. Christ was not divine, but his teachings and the example set by his life are in­ valuable.*
  • A D 32. The question of Christ’s divinity is unimportant; it is his teachings that mat­ ter.*
  • A D 33. God is the final judge of our behavior, but I do not believe that He is as pun­ ishing as some seem to say He is.*

*Denotes reverse-scored items. Reprinted with permission of authors.


Gorsuch, R. L., & Smith, C. S. (1983). Attribu­tions of responsibility to God: An interaction of re­ligious beliefs and outcomes. Journal for the Scien­ tific Study of Religion, 22, 340-352.

Subsequent Research:

None located.


Broen, W. E. (1957a). A factor analytic study of religious attitudes. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 54, 176-179.

Broen, W. E. (1957b). Religious Attitude Inven­ tory: The original correlation matrix, the unrotated factor matrix, and the Religious Attitude Inventory with keys for scoring (Document No. 5066). Amer­ ican Documentation Institute: Auxiliary Publica­ tions Project, Photoduplication Service. Washing­ ton, D.C.: Library of Congress.

Lee, R. R. (1965). Theological belief as a di­ mension of personality (Doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, 1965). Dissertation Ab­ stracts International, 26-06, 3510.

Smith, C. S. (1983). Sanctioning and causal at­ tributions to God: A function of theological posi­ tion and actors’ characteristics (Doctoral disserta­ tion, Fuller Theological Seminary, Professional School of Psychology, 1983). Dissertation Ab­ stracts International, 44-06B, 2016.