RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE QUESTIONNAIRE

Variable:

The Religious Experience Ques­tionnaire (REQ) was designed to measure personal religious experience, which refers to the experienced reality of an affective re­lationship with a personal, caring God. The author differentiates between this affective, experiential dimension, and the cognitive dimension of belief in a religious system or in doctrinal statements. The construct in­cludes a sense of being heard, cared for, and forgiven by God, as well as a sense of God's presence and of being saved. The measure is intended to assess individual, subjective ex­perience, not group norms or values.

Description:

This scale was developed in response to the observation that traditional religious measures of orthodoxy tended to have ceiling effects in religiously commit­ ted populations. It emphasized the cognitive rather than the affective aspects of religion (K. J. Edwards, personal communication, August 26, 1997). It is based on the per­sonal religious experience factor identified by King (1967), which contained items re­lated to experiencing the effects of God's influence on one's personal life. Edwards's scale was initially developed from items drawn from this factor and was later revised and expanded.

The original REQ consisted of eight items scored on a 4-point Likert scale rang­ing from "all the time" to "very seldom" for seven items, and from "constant fellowship" to "rare fellowship" for one item assessing the degree of experienced fellowship with God (Edwards, 1976). The scale was later revised and expanded to 12 items in order to include 4 reverse-scored items (K. J. Ed­ wards, personal communication, August 17, 1997). In addition, two items were reworded in order to standardize the anchors of the Likert scales, which were expanded to 7 points ranging from "never" to "always." One item on prayer was also replaced with an item that was more relational in order to maintain the consistency of the measure's experiential emphasis. Items 3, 5, 7, and 12 are reverse scored. The total score for the instrument is then de­termined by summing the responses on each item, allowing a range of 12 to 84. Alterna­tively, the mean of the responses may be calculated.

Practical Considerations:

The REQ is a paper-and-pencil measure that does not re­ quire special examiner skill for administra­tion or interpretation. Brief instructions are provided for the test taker that emphasize the importance of answering each item based on personal experience. The purpose and rationale of the scale are clear: to assess the subjective and experiential aspects of an individual's relationship with God. The face validity of the measure is good as all items clearly relate to the construct the scale at­ tempts to measure.

Norms/Standardization:

No normative data are reported in the available research on the REQ. Consequently, it is difficult to assess whether the instrument does, in fact, avoid the problem of a ceiling effect with reli­giously committed populations, as intended by the author. However, the fact that the scale correlates significantly with a number of measures in a number of religiously com­ mitted samples (e.g., college students, adults, and an inpatient clinical sample) suggests that the range is indeed wide enough to allow for research use of the instrument with religious populations.

Reliability:

No specific reliability data are available.

Validity:

Construct validity of an affective experience of God as close and loving is supported by significant positive correla­tions between REQ scores and loving, benevolent God images (Brokaw & Ed­ wards, 1994), an intrinsic-committed reli­gious orientation, and peer ratings of the individual's relationship to God (Wessel, 1979). Brokaw (1991) factor-analyzed the original 12 items, in addition to 16 experi­mental items, using a sample of 92 under­ graduate students from a religiously homo­geneous population. The results suggest that the original 12 items load onto a single fac­ tor with loadings ranging from .46 to .83, thus supporting the homogeneity of the con­ struct.

In addition, the construct validity of the REQ is indirectly supported by a number of studies showing significant positive correla­tions between REQ scores and constructs involving inter- and intrapersonal affective and experiential dimensions: intrapersonal variables of positive self-concept (Day, 1980; Wessel, 1979), self-esteem (Edwards, 1977; Edwards, Goldberg, Hargrove, & Linamen, 1979), and self-adequacy (Tisdale et al., 1997); interpersonal variables of em­pathy (Edwards, 1977; Edwards et al., 1979; Wessel, 1979), an affiliative interpersonal style (Volker, 1981), dominance, autonomy, a friendly-dominant interpersonal style, ex­ pressed inclusion, expressed affection (Ed­ wards et al., 1979), social interest, and psy­chosocial maturity (Wessel, 1979); and level of object relations development (Brokaw & Edwards, 1994; Tisdale et al., 1997).

Religious Experience Questionnaire

Below are listed a number of descriptive statements concerning religious experience. We would like you to use these statements to describe YOUR religious experience as accurately as possi­ble. That is, we would like you to indicate, on a scale from I to 7, how true of YOUR religious experience these various statements are. Please respond to each item using the following scale:

  1. I experience an awareness of God's love.
  2. I pray privately in places other than church.
  3. I experience feelings of anger or resentment toward God.
  4. I ask God to forgive my sins.
  5. I am afraid that God is going to punish me in some way.
  6. When I have decisions to make in my everyday life, I try to find out what God wants me to do.
  7. I experience the feeling that God is so big and important He doesn't have time for my personal problems.
  8. I feel very close to God in prayer, during public worship, or at important mo­ments in my life.
  9. I experience awareness of God's influence in my daily life.
  10. When I pray to God, I feel like I'm having a conversation with a close friend.
  11. My relationship to God is characterized by close fellowship.
  12. I find myself doubting that God really exists.

Location:

Edwards, K. J. (1976). Sex-role behavior and re­ligious experience. In W. J. Donaldson Jr. (Ed.), Re­ search in mental health and religious behavior: An introduction to research in the integration of Chris­tianity and the behavioral sciences (pp. 224-238). Atlanta: Psychological Studies Institute. (original version)

Information on the development of the current version has not been published. Further information on the scale can be obtained by contacting the au­thor directly:

Keith J. Edwards, Ph.D. Rosemead School of Psychology Biola University

13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639; (562) 903-4867

Recent Research:

Brokaw, 8. F., & Edwards, K. J. (1994). The re­lationship of God image to level of object relations development. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 22(4), 352-371.

Day, N. D. (1980). Religious orientation, God concept, religious experience, social interest, and self-concept. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

Edwards, K. J., Goldberg, G., Hargrove, J., & Linamen, C. (1979). Religious experience as a function of self-concept and interpersonal behavior. Unpublished manuscript, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

Tisdale, T. C., Key, T. L., Edwards, K. J., Brokaw, B. F., Kemperman, S. R., Cloud, H., Townsend, J., & Okamoto, T. (1997). Impact of treatment on God image and personal adjustment, and correlations of God image to personal adjust­ment and object relations development. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25(2), 227-239.

Volker, G. C. (1981). God concept as a function of interpersonal style (Doctoral dissertation, Rose­ mead School of Psychology, Biola University, 1981). Dissertation Abstracts International, 42, 11578.

References

Brokaw, B. F. (1991). The relationship of God image to level of object relations development. Un­ published doctoral dissertation, Rosemead Gradu­ate School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mi­rada, CA.

Brokaw, B. F., & Edwards, K. J. (1994). The re­lationship of God image to level of object relations development. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 22(4), 352-371.

Day, N. D. (1980). Religious orientation, God concept, religious experience, social interest, and self-concept. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

Edwards, K. J. (1977). Religious experience as a function of self-concept and interpersonal behav­ior. Unpublished manuscript, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

Edwards, K. J., Goldberg, G., Hargrove, J., & Linamen, C. (1979). Religious experience as a function of self-concept and interpersonal behavior. Unpublished manuscript, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.

King, M. (1967). Measuring the religion vari­able: Nine proposed dimensions. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 6, 173-190.

Tisdale, T. C., Key, T. L., Edwards, K. J., Brokaw, B. F., Kemperman, S. R., Cloud, H., Townsend, J., & Okamoto, T. (1997). Impact of treatment on God image and personal adjustment, and correlations of God image to personal adjust­ ment and object relations development. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25(2), 227-239.

Volker, G. C. (1981). God concept as a function of interpersonal style (Doctoral dissertation, Rose­ mead School of Psychology, Biota University, 1981). Dissertation Abstracts International, 42, 1157B.

Wessel, S. J. (1979). The relationship of psy­chosocial maturity to intrapersonal, interpersonal and spiritual functioning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.