The Religious Attitudes Scales were designed to measure what are con­ceived of as eight dimensions of religiosity or religious attitudes: church orientation, rit­ualism, altruism, fundamentalism, theism, idealism, superstition, and mysticism. (1) Church orientation refers to positive atti­tudes toward and active involvement in the church, conceived mainly as a local institu­tion. (2) Ritualism gives primacy to formal worship services that are carried out with precision and orderliness. (3) Altruism con­ sists of concern for and helpfulness toward others and a corresponding valorization of the church's teachings against selfishness and individualism. (4) Fundamentalism is defined here primarily as biblical literalism and the conviction that the Bible is an infal­lible personal guide for living. (5) Theism designates an affirmation of the existence of God as a personal, omniscient, and omnipo­tent caretaker and guide. (6) Idealism is defined as an uncompromising dedication to ideals and principles apart from any theistic assumptions. (7) Superstition refers to belief in ordinary superstitions, in astrology and psychic phenomena, and in ultimately mys­terious spiritual forces. (8) Mysticism entails an affirmation of the possibility of ineffable knowledge of and union with God or some ultimate reality, which are thought to be at­tainable by means of silent waiting, meditation, or prayer.


Each of the eight dimensions is represented by a 12-item scale. Four of the statements on the Church Orientation Scale as well as four on the Altruism Scale were taken from Thurstone and Chave's (1929) Attitude Toward the Church Scale. Similarly, four items on the Superstition Scale were borrowed from the Fascism (F) Scale developed by Adorno, Frenkel­ Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford (1950), and four on the Idealism scale were taken from still other sources. The scales may be individually administered or the 96 items may be randomly mixed, as the author him­ self chose to arrange them. Subjects respond to each item on a 5-point Likert scale that ranges from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree," with the midpoint designated "unde­cided." Numerical equivalents to the five categories range from O to 4. Twenty­ three of the items are reversed in their word­ing; scoring of these items is thus likewise reversed. Scores on each scale range from 0 to 48. A total religiosity score can also be derived, by averaging the individual's eight scale scores. Maranell used this mean scale score only for an initial ordering of the eleven denominational groups he studied.

Practical Considerations:

There is no fixed format required for the administration of this instrument. On some occasions, the 5- point response scale was printed after each of the 96 statements. At other times, a test booklet with the randomly arranged state­ments was accompanied by a standardized answer sheet that could then be easily scored with a set of eight templates.

Maranell recommends that, in randomiz­ing the questionnaire items, researchers should be careful not to begin the question­naire with negative statements that might damage rapport with certain subjects. Maranell gives no indication of the order he himself employed. Users will have to format their own versions of the question­naire and design their own scoring tem­ plates.


Because this in­strument was designed primarily for corre­lational and experimental research, no effort was made to develop formal norms for these scales. Yet Maranell (1974) does provide mean scores for various subject groupings, which were formed according to occupa­tion, dwelling area, house type, educational level, and region of the country. Thus he does offer some basis for interpreting indi­vidual scores.


Test-retest reliabilities were twice calculated for the eight scales, the first time with a one-week interval between administrations and the second time, using a different but likewise unspecified group of subjects, with an interval of one and a half weeks. In both cases the mean reliability co­ efficient-the coefficient of stability-was .87, with individual scales ranging in relia­bility from .68 to .99. Under both condi­tions, seven out of eight scales had reliabili­ties in the .80s or .90s.


To ensure the highest possible level of reliability and validity, Maranell constructed his scales using an item-analy­ sis technique developed by Allen Edwards. For each scale, Maranell selected for his two criterion groups those students who fell either in the top or in the bottom 25% of the distribution of total scores. He then com­ pared the item means for these two groups by using the statistic t, which measures the extent to which the two groups score differ­ently on the item. Edwards proposed a min­imum t of 1.75 for including an item on a scale; all of Maranell's 96 items meet this minimum requirement and t values typi­cally range much higher. Following Maranell, scale items are listed at the end of this review in descending order of t val­ues, which are listed to the right of each item.

Maranell asserts that the scale statements say what one would expect them to and thus that the scales have "face validity." Useful though this quality is for enlisting a sub­ject's cooperation, it does not assure us that the instrument genuinely measures the vari­ables after which its scales are named. Far more significant for assessing the scales' construct validity is the accumulation of re­ search evidence that Maranell lays out in the chapters of his book. He features in particular the pattern of denominational differ­ences that he found in a stratified random sample of clergy. On the total religiosity score, Catholic priests had a strikingly higher mean than the clergy in the other ten groups, and the Unitarian-Universalist min­isters had a notably lower one; the clergy of the remaining nine denominations were only slightly distinguished from each other. On the individual scales, a diversity of pat­ terns appeared. In some cases-the Ritual­ ism Scale, for example, on which the Catholic and Episcopal clergy stood out from the rest-the pattern seems to confirm that the scale measures more or less what it is supposed to. In other cases, however, the trends raise questions about the scale's pre­cise meaning.

On the Altruism Scale, to illustrate, the Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, and Church of Christ clergy scored highest and the Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Unitarian-Universalist clergy scored lowest. While there may be some truth in Maranell's claim that these results reflect genuine differences in altruism resulting from exclusivistic tendencies or social class, an examination of the items on the Altruism Scale suggests that a high score does not re­flect "unselfish concern for others" per se, but the conviction that the church is vital for overcoming human selfishness and that the respondent is interested in the church mainly "because of its work for moral and social reform." It is telling that, for all of the subject groups, the Altruism Scale tends to correlate more highly with the Fundamen­talism Scale than with any of the others, in­cluding the Idealism Scale. Moreover, the Altruism Scale shows the same tendency to correlate positively with superpatriotic, au­thoritarian, and anticivil-liberty attitudes that appear for all of the other scales except Idealism. Only on anti-Black, anti-Semitic, and antiforeign attitudes does it consistently diverge from the others and join with the Idealism scale in opposition to these atti­tudes. And whereas the Idealism Scale cor­ relates -.78 with a measure of general mal­ adjustment, the Altruism Scale correlates a significant .37. This scale is obviously something more than a simple measure of altruism.

The Ritualism Scale, which shows an even stronger positive relation with politi­cally conservative attitudes than the Funda­mentalism Scale does, tends like some of the other scales to correlate positively with suggestibility, perceptual rigidity, anxiety, general maladjustment, dependency, and fa­naticism, and negatively with scholastic ap­titude, ego strength, and social desirability. Instead of representing a thoughtful appre­ciation for ritualization, as we find in the work of Erik Erikson (1977), the Ritualism Scale's emphasis on precision and orderli­ness tips the scale in the direction of what Erikson himself called ritualism, defined as a pathological distortion of playful ritual­ization. Thus any would-be user of Maranell's scales should carefully take into account the scale items themselves and the patterns of Maranell's findings instead of simply relying on the names of the scales.

Maranell’s Religiosity Scales

Please use the following scale to indicate the extent to which you agree with each statement:

  • 0 = strongly disagree
  • 3 = somewhat agree
  • 1 = somewhat disagree
  • 4 = strongly agree
  • 2 = undecided

Note: Scoring for the items followed by (R) should be reversed.

Church Orientation Scale

  1. *I don't believe churchgoing will do anyone any harm.
  2. * I believe in the church and its teachings because I have been accustomed to them since I was a child.
  3.  The church is important as it helps in deciding one's role in the community.
  4. *I believe that membership in a good church increases one's self-respect.
  5. The history of the church qualifies it as a lasting institution of which one would want to be a part.
  6. *I believe that membership in a good church increases one's usefulness to society.
  7. The church affords an atmosphere favorable to the furthering of the ideals of the good life.
  8. Church members are especially good people to associate with.
  9. Church attendance helps me to rid myself of any guilt feelings for not living up to the proposed ideals of the church.
  10. Church is a good place for one to win social approval.
  11. When one fails to live up to certain ideals of the good life, he finds a way to make restitution for these failures through the church.
  12. Few important members of our society maintain any degree of religious affiliation. (R)

*From Thurstone and Chave (1929).

Ritualism Scale

  1. The ritual of worship is a very important part of religion.
  2. One of the most important aspects of religion is the religious service itself.
  3. The precision and orderliness with which religious ceremonies are performed is important to me.
  4. The more a religious service is ritualized the more it has meaning for me.
  5. Religion is most real to me during my attendance at public church or religious services.
  6. I think that the placement and treatment of the various articles of worship is very important in a worship service.
  7. When I recall my experiences with religion I most readily remember the impressive formal rites and rituals.
  8. I like to think that people all over are going through nearly the same ritual in their religious worship.
  9. A religious service must be beautiful to be really meaningful to me.
  10. It is important to me that a religious service be standardized.
  11. I do not think that the sequence of prayers, songs, etc., is very important in religious services. (R)
  12. Prayers in religious services are better if they are formalized-as litanies, that is, with responses.

Altruism Scale

  1. *The paternal and benevolent attitude of the church is quite distasteful to me. (R)
  2.  The church is helping me to develop the social attitudes of understanding, sympathy, and cooperation.
  3. * I believe the church is absolutely needed to overcome the tendency to individualism and selfishness, for it seeks to practice the golden rule.
  4.  We should be concerned with our own private welfare and stop trying to help others by butting into their private lives. (R)
  5. *I am interested in the church because of its work for moral and social reform in which I desire to share. 5.96
  6. Unselfish love is the prerequisite for any real knowledge of religion. 5.23
  7. Tender concern for others is a means of finding joy in one's religion. 5.06
  8. Religion causes one to love his enemies. 3.72
  9. Brotherly love was the heart of the teaching of Jesus. 3.72
  10. "Do-gooders" usually do much more harm than good. (R) 3.29
  11. * I believe that the church is attempting to correlate science and religion for the good of humanity. 2.45
  12. Our world is in need of a more positive emphasis on life. 1.93

From Thurstone and Chave (1929).

Fundamentalism Scale

  1. The Bible is completely and everlastingly true.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God.
  3. The Bible is His message to me as His son or daughter.
  4. The Bible is the book upon which I should try to base my living.
  5. The Bible is too illogical. (R)
  6. The Bible is an instrument which brings me closer to God.
  7. The Bible is only a group of myths. (R)
  8. The Bible is one of the best history books ever written.
  9. The Bible should not be taken seriously. (R)
  10. The Bible contains the teaching given by God to His disciples and other peoples.
  11. Any scholar can see that the Bible just isn't true. (R)
  12. The Bible is a book in which the moral values of the world in general can be found.

Theism Scale

  1. God is always watching over us.
  2. I do not feel that a belief in God is necessary. (R)
  3. God is my Father.
  4. God is a divine spirit guiding my life.
  5. There is no proof for the existence of God. (R)
  6. God is not a certainty. (R)
  7. God is hard to visualize as really existing. (R)
  8. God is all-powerful and all-knowing.
  9. God is an all-pervading spirit.
  10. God's voice keeps me on the straight and narrow path.
  11. I personally feel that the notion of God is inappropriate in this world of science. (R)
  12. God is nothing. (R)

Idealism Scale

  1. *I. In the end justice will prevail.
  2. Great causes must be supported.
  3. Brotherhood, freedom, and equality are workable concepts for man.
  4. **4. The best way to handle people is to tell them what they want to hear. (R)
  5. Men will never learn to live peacefully with one another. (R)
  6. If individuals would act in accord with their consciences, the world would be a lot better off.
  7. An individual without principles is an individual without honor.
  8. We must behave as if men were completely honest.
  9. Identification with a "cause" is an important part of life.
  10. **10. It is better to compromise with existing evils than to go out on limb in attacking them. (R)
  11. **11. When you come right down to it, it's human nature never to do anything without an eye to one's own advantage. (R)
  12. 12. The people who get ahead in the world are individuals who are willing to compromise with their principles. (R)

*From Goldman-Eisler (1953)

**From Christie and Geis (1970)

Superstition Scale

  1. One should never step on or walk across a grave.
  2. To be perfectly honest, I am bothered by a black cat crossing my path.
  3. It is silly to believe that people are born under certain stars or planets which influence their futures. (R)
  4. Failure to live up to the laws of God will result in hard times for an individual.
  5. One should never treat a Bible disrespectfully or tear it.
  6. Every person should have a deep faith in some supernatural force higher than himself.
  7. It is conceivable that there are spirits and spiritual beings in our world today.
  8. Only fools and extremely gullible individuals believe in extrasensory perception, that is, such things as telepathy and clairvoyance. (R)
  9. Sickness is a result of present or past sins on the part of an individual or some of his relatives.
  10. It is entirely possible that this series of wars and conflicts will be ended once and for all by a world-destroying earthquake, flood, or other catastrophe.
  11. *Although many people may scoff, it may yet be shown that astrology can explain a lot of things.
  12. * Sciences like chemistry, physics, and medicine have carried men very far, but there are many important things that can never possibly be understood by the human mind.

*From Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford (1950).

Mysticism Scale

  1. The true seeker will eventually reach his goal of union with God.
  2. The final authority in religion is the inner light or the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
  3. True religious experience occurs in periods of profound silence.
  4. Communion with God is a result of the complete loss of one's will (or the subjection of it), giving way to a superior power.
  5. The visible manifestations of life are a partial manifestation of the spiritual.
  6. Real worship involves a perfect union between man and God.
  7. Religion finds its working expression in intellectual speculation and not in prayer. (R)
  8. Man must endeavor with the human mind to grasp the divine essence or the ultimate reality of things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the highest.
  9. The mind has a higher state of existence beyond reason and in this superconscious state, knowledge beyond reasoning comes.
  10. Meditation is the most important phase of one's religious experience.
  11. Purely intellectual life does not have a mystical state.
  12. Our verbal language isn't adequate to express or communicate real religious experience.


Maranell, G. M. (l 974). Responses to religion: Studies in the social psychology of religious belief Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Subsequent Research: Maranell's (1974) book-length work sums up a series of re­ search undertakings that were earlier re­ ported in the journal literature. The scales have apparently not been used subse­quently.


Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Christie, R., & Geis, F. A. (1970). Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic.

Erikson, E. H. (1977). Toys and reasons: Stages in ritualization of experience. New York: W. W. Norton.

Thurstone, L. L., & Chave, E. J. (1929). The measurement of attitude: A psychophysical method and some experiments with a scale for measuring attitude toward the church. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.