The Nearness to God Scale was derived from the Religious Attitude Inven­tory developed by William E. Broen (1957a; reviewed in this volume). Items pertaining to the Nearness to God Scale as­sess the extent to which one feels God is real, constantly near, and accessible. Indi­viduals scoring high on this scale are char­acterized as feeling that they “walk” and “talk” with God, communicating with God regularly. One’s nearness to God is evalu­ated from within the context of the Christ­ian faith.


Broen’s (1957a,b) scale origi­nally contained 31 items designed to mea­ sure nearness to God (see 8.9 in this volume for a review of Broen’s instrument). Gor­such and Smith (1983) retained those items that they felt had the greatest contract valid­ity given the cultural and theological shifts in American society since the original de­velopment of Broen’s instrument. Items I, 9, 13, 17, 21, and 23 from Broen’s instru­ment (Broen, 1957b, Factor I) were retained for the Nearness to God scale.

Practical Considerations:

The instrument is relatively straightforward and easily admin­istered within a variety of settings. The scale is useful for both religious and nonre­ligious groups, although the instrument gen­erally assumes a Christian orientation. Re­spondents simply note whether they agree or disagree with the item statements. Scor­ing is simple, since Gorsuch and Smith just added up the number of items with which the respondent agreed.


Gorsuch and Smith (1983) administered their revised ver­sion of Broen’s original instrument to 164 undergraduate students who were taking so­cial science, nursing, and religion courses at a small Christian college. The Nearness to God mean was 5.24 (SD = 0.88).


Reliability coefficients are un­ available for Gorsuch’s six-item Nearness to God Scale. In an unpublished study, Gor­such administered the Broen’s Religious At­titude Inventory to 50 students (32 males, I 8 females) at Texas Christian University. The interitem consistency coefficient for all 30 items in Broen’s instrument that per­tained to the nearness to God dimension was 0.60 (K-Richardson formula). This would give some indication of what might be ex­pected with the Gorsuch and Smith scale.


No validity measures are available for the Nearness to God scale beyond what was already completed with Broen’s origi­nal instrument. In terms of construct valid­ity, Gorsuch and Smith (1983) do note that individuals with a higher “nearness to God” score are significantly more likely to at­ tribute the responsibility to God for the out­ come of life events and experiences.

The following might give some indica­tion of the construct validity of this mea­ sure. In an unpublished study, Lawrence Wrightsman 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 Lawrence Wrightsman. For male students at Central Michigan University, scores on the Nearness to God Scale were signifi­cantly correlated with how negatively one viewed human nature (r = 0.27), with the extent to which one viewed persons as being less than trustworthy (r = 0.33), with the extent to which one viewed persons as being less than altruistic (r = 0.24), and with the extent to which one viewed per­ sons as being less than independent agents (r = 0.3 I). The findings were similar for the female students.

Nearness to God Scale

Directions: Circle A if you agree with the statement. Circle D if you disagree with the state­ment. Do not spend too much time on any one statement. We realize the difficulty a person who does not believe that God exists might have in answering a statement. If you do not be­lieve in the existence of a God, show your disagreement with the concept by circling the D when you come to such a statement.

  • A D I. God is constantly with us.
  • A D 2. God can be approached directly by all believers.
  • A D 3. God exists in all of us.
  • A D 4. I am sometimes very conscious of the presence of God.
  • A D 5. God is very real to me.
  • A D 6. Because of His presence we can know that God exists.


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

Subsequent Research:

Lupfer, M. B., Brock, K. F., & DePaola, S. J. (1992). The use of secular and religious attributions to explain everyday behavior. Journal for the Sci­ entific Study of Religion, 31, 486-503.


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 Inven­tory: The original correlation matrix, the unrotated factor matrix, and the Religious Attitude Inventory with keys for scoring (Document No. 5066). Amer­ican Documentation Institute: Auxiliary Publica­ tions Project, Photoduplication Service. Washing­ ton, D.C.: Library of Congress.