The Religious Attitude Inventory (RAI) is an early attempt to study religion as a multidimensional construct. Broen (1957a, 1957b) sought to identify how an individual’s religious attitude might be com­ posed of several relatively independent, dif­ferentially weighted aspects.


No particular theory was cited as a driving force behind the development of the RAI. The scale is most noted as an at­ tempt to distinguish between two broad types of religiosity: a “nearness of God” perspective (where high scores emphasize the Deity’s loving presence and guidance) and a “fundamentalism-humanitarianism” view (where high scores emphasize human­ity’s sinfulness and the need for a punishing God). Gorsuch and Smith ( I 983) provided a revised edition of each dimension (see 11.6 and 12.2 in this volume), retaining only those items that appear to transcend the cul­tural and theological shifts during that twenty-five year interval.

Practical Considerations:

The 58 item scale is easily administered. This paper and pencil instrument requires approximately I0- I 5 minutes to complete. However, relia­bility and validity apparently remain untested beyond the original study (see Re­ liability and Validity). Additionally, the user must be aware of the fact that responses in 1957 to items such as “Dancing is a sin” or “All public places of amusement should be closed on Sunday” may well be different half a century later.


Broen first hy­ pothesized the existence of five fairly dis­crete religious types: (a) those who stress sin, (b) individuals who need religion to fill a void, (c) emphasizers of moral aspects of religion, (d) highlighters of God’s love and glory, and (e) “spirit-filled” practitioners of glossolalia. Through a variety of selection techniques, a total of 133 statements regard­ ing God’s nature and human relationships with God were identified as representing these categories.

Five groups of four people each were chosen to represent the above noted types; four other individuals, deemed “moderate” Catholics and Lutherans, composed a sixth group. These 20 participants Q-sorted the 133 items into nine groups along a contin­uum of agree–disagree. A normal distribu­tion was forced; each of the nine groups had a predetermined limit on the number of items it could contain (i.e., 2-7-15-26-33- 26- I 5- 7-2). The sort vectors were then cor­ related between subjects to provide a matrix that was used to perform an inverse (Q) fac­ tor analysis.

Two primary factors emerged initially (r = .32); four were carried into rotation to increase the stability of the final loadings of subjects on the two main factors. Subjects were then divided into two sets for each fac­ tor, depending on whether they loaded high or low on the two main factors of interest. Average Q-sort placements for each of the 133 statements were next calculated for each of the four sets of subjects. Those items having the greatest mean differences and least overlap between high and low loading below (see appendix). An examina­tion of these statements resulted in general factor descriptions: (a) nearness to God and (b) fundamentalism-humanitarianism. The RAI thus derived is presented as a dichotic choice instrument: agree or disagree. With the item numbers from the instrument (see appendix), the factors were constructed as follows:

FACTOR 1 (Nearness of God)

Agree statements

l  5 9 13 17 21 25 29 33 37 40 43 46 48 50

Disagree statements

3 7 11 15 19 23 27 31 35

FACTOR 2 (Fundamentalism-Humanitarianism)

Agree statements

2 6 lO 14 18 22 26 30 34 38 41 44 47 49 51

Disagree statements


Reported As Belonging to Both Factors 52 54 55 (Disagree = Factor 1; Agree = Factor 2)

58 (Agree = Factor 1; Disagree = Factor 2) 53 (Agree = Factors l & 2)

56 57 (Disagree= Factors l & 2)

T tests were introduced as evidence for the utility of (a) a summation of all “agree” responses as a measure of general religiosity which discriminated between groups and (b) a measure of religious emphasis obtained as a difference score between mean “agree” re­sponses on the two factors.


Several issues address the relia­bility Broen’s factors. First, the loadings do not inspire great confidence. Though Factor 2 reports adequate reliability loadings, 8 of 14 loadings on Factor 1 are .42 or less. This pattern begs further exploration with additional samples.

Second, the exact parameters used to re­ duce the initial 133 statements to arrive at the final 58 are not clear. A refactoring of the original 133 items could serve the pur­ pose of verifying the accuracy of these final choices.

It is also not made clear why, when both positive and negative aspects of the two factors are represented in the 58 statements, only “agree” responses are used in deter­ mining general religiosity or religious em­ phases. Since the dichotic choice already severely limits potential variance, it would seem advantageous to reverse score the appropriate endorsements of “disagree” items.


Cross-validation was attempted using 113 participants from 4 religious ori­entations. Summations of “agree” re­sponses were made for each factor’s con­stituent items. On this basis, eight t tests were presented as indications that groups of people respond differentially to the two fac­ tors. (These remain significant after apply­ing a Bonferroni correction to the alpha level.)

Such a procedure does not help to better understand the actual structure of the two factors. Further investigation may help to clarify the factor composition.

This “cross-validation” procedure also shifts from an idiographic to a topological level of analysis. Strictly speaking, the com­ parison is not one of equals; it is not fully apparent how the differences between groups address the issue of an individual’s unique pattern. In fact, the intentional selec­tion of individuals to compose the different groups probably overestimates the discrimi­native properties of the RAI.

While such aspects of Broen’s methodol­ogy raise questions, the overall approach is intriguing. Much research in the psychology of religion focuses on nomothetic descriptions or generalized individual differences.

Broen’s research paradigm is predominately one of idiographic depictions. His approach illustrates how different facets of religiosity may combine to form a single individual’s predilections. This focus is one that is very beneficial and is to be encouraged if we wish to describe real people instead of a mythical average.

Religious Attitude Inventory

Instructions: Circle the A if you agree with a statement; circle the D if you disagree with the statement. Make a choice for each statement. Do not spend too much time on any one state­ ment. A person who does not believe in the existence of a God may have difficulty in answer­ ing a statement such as “God watches over us.” (Disagree might be interpreted as meaning ”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. God is constantly with us.

A D 2. Christ died for sinners.

A D 3. The Ten Commandments were good for people of olden times but are really not applicable to modem life.

AD 4. There is really no such place as Hell.

AD 5.Miracles are performed by the power of God even today.

AD 6.It is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not because of our own works that we are made righteous before God.

AD 7. Dancing is a sin.

AD 8. Christ’s simple message of concern for your fellow man has been twisted by the superstitious mysticism of such men as Paul.

AD 9. God can be approached directly by all believers.

AD 10. The death of Christ on the cross was necessary to blot out man’s sin and make him acceptable in the eyes of God.

AD 11.It was too bad that Christ died so young or He could have been a greater power for good.

A D 12. “God” is an abstract concept roughly equivalent to the concept “nature.” A D 13. God exists in all of us.

A D 14. Man is born in sin.

A D 15. The wearing of fashionable dress and worldly adornment should be discontinued because it tends to gratify and encourage pride.

A D 16. Man’s essential nature is good.

A D 17. I am sometimes very conscious of the presence of God. A D 18. Man is by nature sinful and unclean.

A D 19. All public places of amusement should be closed on Sunday.

AD 20. 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.

AD 21. God is very real to me.

AD 22. The Bible is the word of God and must be believed in its entirety.

AD 23.I believe in God but I am not sure what I believe about Him.

AD 24.Man has a spark of the divine in him which must be made to blossom more fully. 

AD 25.When in doubt it’s best to stop and ask God what to do.

AD 26. Sin brings forth the wrath of God.

AD 27. A person should follow his own conscience in deciding right and wrong.

AD 28. The most important idea in religion is the golden rule. AD 29. God should be asked about all important matters.

AD 30. The wrath of God is a terrible thing.

AD 31. It is more important to love your neighbor than to keep the Ten Commandments.

AD 32. The Scriptures should be interpreted with the constant exercise of reason.

AD 33.Because of His presence we can know that God exists.

AD 34.Everyone will be called before God at the judgment day to answer for his sins.

AD 35. Man’s idea of God is quite vague.

AD 36.Reason is not depraved and untrustworthy for then the natural foundations of reli­ gion which rest upon it, would fall.

AD 37.Miracles are sometimes performed by persons in close communion with God.

AD 38. Everyone has sinned and deserves punishment for his sins.

AD 39. The church is important because it is an effective agency for organizing the social life of a community.

AD 40.My faith in God is complete, for “though He slay me yet will I trust Him.”

AD 41. No one should question the authority of the Bible.

AD 42. The content of various doctrines is unimportant. What really matters is that they help those who believe in them to lead better lives.

AD 43.When the Scriptures are interpreted with reason, they will be found to be consistent with themselves and with nature.

AD 44.Because of his terrible sinfulness, man has been eternally damned unless he accepts Christ as his savior.

AD 45. Religion is a search for understanding, truth, love and beauty in human life.

AD 46. True love of God is shown in obedience to His moral laws.

AD 47.Every person born into this world deserves God’s wrath and damnation.

AD 48.If we live as pure lives as we can, God will forgive our sins.

AD 49. The world is full of condemned sinners.

AD 50.Persons who are in close contact with the Holy Spirit can and do at times speak in unknown tongues.

AD 51. The Devil can enter a man’s body and take control.

AD 52. The people of the world must repent before it is too late and they find themselves in Hell.

AD 53. No one who has experienced God like I have could doubt His existence.

AD 54. The Christian must lead a strict life, away from worldly amusements.

AD 55.In his natural state of sin, man is too evil to communicate with God.

AD 56.Christ was not divine but his teachings and the example set by his life are invaluable.

AD 57.The question of Christ’s divinity is unimportant; it is his teachings that matter.

AD 58.God is the final judge of our behavior, but I do not believe that he is as punishing as some seem to say He is.


Broen, W. E., Jr. (1957a). A factor-analytic study of religious attitudes. Journal of Abnonnal and Social Psychology, 54, (2), 176-179.

Subsequent Research:

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


Broen, W. E., Jr. (1957a). A factor-analytic study of religious attitudes. Journal of Abnonnal and Social Psychology, 54, (2), 176-179.

Broen, W. E., Jr. (1957b). Factor I key: Reli­gious attitude inventory. American Documentation Institute, Auxiliary Publications Project, Photodu­ plication Service, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., Document 5066.

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

Guertin, W. H., & Bailey, J.P., Jr. (1970). Intro­ duction to modern factor analysis. Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers.

Stevens, J. (l 992). Applied multivariate statis­ tics for the social sciences. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Earlbaum.