The Religious Expression Scale is a multidimensional assessment of religious expression within the context of evangelical Christian faith. Boan’s scale measures a pre­ dominantly intellectual versus predomi­nantly affective expression of religious faith.

In developing this instrument, Boan built upon James’s (1902) distinction between intuitive/experiential and doctrinal/intellec­tual expressions of religious faith. More recently, theorists have speculated that these two tendencies might somehow be anchored in the distinctive functions of the right and left cortical hemispheres of the brain (see Ash, Crist, Salisbury, Dewell, & Boivin, 1996 for a concise review of this literature). Boan developed a questionnaire that he hoped would allow for an evaluation of the extent to which the respondent favored doc­trinal/intellectual modes of religious expres­sion (left brain) versus tendencies more con­sistent with an affective/intuitive approach (right brain).


The first part of the instrument consists of 59 statements which the respondent evaluates on a Likert scale (1 = dis­ agree strongly to 6 = agree strongly). The second part of the questionnaire consists of 24 questions that are either descriptive (e.g., age, sex, educational level) or pertain to present religious practices and recent life experiences (e.g., “Have you ever spoken in tongues?” “What is the number of times you attend church each month?” “Have you moved in the last five years?”).

A factor analysis of the data provided from Boan’s sample of several hundred par­ticipants from a variety of church back­ grounds revealed nine factors:

  • I. General religious commitment (general religiosity).
  • Intellectual emphasis (intellectuality of religious expression)
  • Affective emphasis (emotionality of re­ ligious expression)
  • Philosophical orientation (religious philosophical and existential concerns)
  • Intense affective experience (concern with intense emotional experiences)
  • Social/emotionally-dependent style (em­ phasis on an emotional faith that relies on the support of others)
  • Bible teaching orientation (emphasis on the teaching and study of the scrip­ tures)
  • Social affective style (emphasis on wit­nessing, outreach, and sharing one’s emotional experience with others)
  • Miscellaneous religiosity items (state­ments that did not load significantly with any of the previous eight factors).

Practical Considerations:

The instrument is self-explanatory and easy to administer. However, there is no standard procedure for scoring the instrument. In one study (Ash et al., 1996) the results of the factor analysis in Boan’s dissertation were used to develop subscale scores for the factors in the instru­ment. This was done by multiplying item re­sponses by the factor loading for that item, and summing these products for a total score for that factor.


Three groups of subjects were selected for Boan’s dissertation study, with the expectation that they would differ in the extent to which they represented a more “intellectual” as opposed to “affective” orientation in their Christian faith. The first group consisted of 46 students from Tal­ bot Theological Seminary (intellectual em­ phasis) in La Mirada, California. The second group consisted of 61 students at Melody land School of Theology (charismatic/affective) in Anaheim, California. The third group con­sisted of 176 subjects were from various churches and organizations in the Southern California area (fundamentalist, evangelical, and charismatic groups participated). How­ ever, no group means or standard deviations are reported by Boan.


Spearman-Brown correlation coefficients were calculated for each factor to evaluate the internal consistency for the items within each factor, with coefficient values above 0.80 for all of the factors. Test-retest coefficients are not available.


Validation of this instrument was divided into four steps: The first step con­sisted of an evaluation of the sensitivity of the instrument by examining the form of the frequency distribution for the entire groups of respondents for each Likert-scale item. These distributions were examined for any obvious ceiling or basement effects. The second step involved the factorial analysis of the total sample to evaluate the extent to which a clear factor structure emerged in terms of intellectual versus emotional/intu­itive modes of religious expression. The factors emerging from this analysis are listed above in the description of the instru­ment. The third step, in order to determine criterion-related validity, was to measure the extent to which each factor could allow for a reasonable prediction of whether each seminarian respondent was from Talbot or Melody land. It was anticipated by Boan that the Talbot seminarians would display more of a verbal/intellectual cognitive orientation (i.e., left brain), while the Melody land seminarians would exhibit a more perceptual/af­fective orientation (i.e., right brain). The discriminant analysis predicted seminary membership with 72.9% accuracy, indicat­ing reasonable predictive validity. Step four, which pertained to construct validity, was assessed by the relationship between the · factors (part 1) and actual religious prac­tices (part 2) of the subjects. Generally, the distinctive types of religious practices noted in part 2 of the questionnaire tended to cor­ respond with the favored mode of religious expression as apparent in part 1 for the re­spondents.

Religious Expression Survey

The following is a survey designed to determine the manner in which a person expresses his/her religious faith. It consists of a list of statements about religion and religious experi­ences, followed by a series of more general questions.

I would like you to rate each item as to whether or not you agree with it as a description of your own religious faith or behavior. This rating will be done according to the following scales:

  • I – disagree strongly
  • 2 – disagree mildly
  • 3 – disagree slightly
  • 4 – agree slightly
  • 5 – agree mildly
  • 6 – agree strongly

In making your answer, just circle the appropriate number after each item. All information is strictly confidential, so please do not put your name anywhere on this test.

  1. For myself, reading the Bible is most important for understanding the truths of God’s revelation.
  2. In relating to non-Christians, I would feel most comfortable speaking about the philosophical soundness of my experience.
  3. I would say that I express my faith primarily through the intellectual areas of my life.
  4. For myself, the Bible is interpreted through the direct and immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  5. To me, the beauty of Christianity lies in the way it helps me through the joys and trials of each day.
  6. I would say that I “think” my religion.
  7. I need other people to help me through the emotional aspects of my life.
  8. I tend to express my faith through the emotional aspects of my life.
  9. In speaking to non-Christians I would probably emphasize the emotional security
  10. I experience with my faith.
  11. Religion should not be “intellectual.”
  12. For myself, the Bible is best interpreted so that it will be consistent with history and science.
  13. In emphasizing the “rational” aspects of faith there is a danger in losing the applicability of that faith.
  14. I experience the Holy Spirit working actively in my life.
  15. I prefer to witness about the love I experience in Christ.
  16. During a church service I may become emotionally overwhelmed by the Spirit of God.
  17. The Holy Spirit works primarily through such means as culture and history.
  18. I find the Body of Christ to be a place where His Word is emphasized.
  19. To evangelize means to work within groups, developing relationships.
  20. I prefer to witness to the truth found in Christ.
  21. I spend time reflecting on the wonder of God.
  22. To evangelize means to witness to individuals.
  23. Society will change when institutions are changed.
  24. I would say that I “feel” my religion.
  25. I tend to be concerned about the political and social implications of the gospel.
  26. I prefer to listen to a minister who is a good Biblical scholar.
  27. I seek God’s guidance through prayer and meditation.
  28. When troubled I prefer to talk to a person who will show me compassion.
  29. I prefer a church group which emphasizes personal sharing.
  30. I seek God’s guidance through the study of scripture.
  31. I rely on the Bible to help me understand what a conversion experience is.
  32. I am willing to accept another’s con- version experience as real even if it is quite different from my own.
  33. I am an unemotional person.
  34. For myself, becoming a believer was the result of much study of Scripture.
  35. Christianity may be seen as a logical system of beliefs.
  36. The content of a person’s testimony is more important than the feelings surrounding it.
  37. I have never actually felt God’s presence.
  38. As Christians, we are living in the Church Age; therefore, we should not expect God to intervene by supernatural means.
  39. For me, worship services are most meaningful where we do not have to follow a set program.
  40. I dislike it when a minister speaks with a lot of emotion and tries to create certain feelings.
  41. Midweek services at my church emphasize sharing needs rather than studying Scripture.
  42. What a person thinks is more important than how he feels.
  43. In church I expect to be taught the Word of God.
  44. Worship is when you reflect on God rather than his “filling” you.
  45. I may lose control of myself during prayer or worship.
  46. Miracles and supernatural events are a regular part of a “spirit-filled” Christian’s life.
  47. I am more emotional about my faith than other people.
  48. I don’t need other people to help me grow in my faith.
  49. I have had an emotional conversion experience.
  50. I feel more comfortable doing things in groups than alone.
  51. I tend to be more individualistic than other people.
  52. I would say that I have an analytic mind.
  53. I am not as concerned about the details of the Bible as other people are.
  54. I can say for certain that I have felt God’s presence.
  55. My beliefs are well organized and thought out.
  56. I am more intellectual about my beliefs than other people.
  57. I would describe myself as a very rational person.
  58. I am a very sociable person.
  59. My religion is very important to me and touches all of my life.
  60. I would describe myself as a very emotional person.

General Survey. Please answer all of the following briefly. Remember that all information will be kept in strict confidence. Feel free not to answer any questions you object to.

Age                                          _

Sex                                         _ Education          _

Annual Income                                            _ Marital Status                      _

Occupation                                                 _ Denomination                                          _

Denomination of Parents (if different)                                                                                    _ Number of times you attend church each month?                                                               _ Number of times you study your Bible each week?                                                            Number of people you witness to each month?                                                                

Have you ever spoken in tongues?                  _

How often?                                            _

Do you consider yourself saved?                                                                                                   Do you believe you can lose your salvation?                                                                        _ Have you had more than one conversion experience?                                                            _ Have you had an experience of being in the presence of God?                                           _ Is your church a place of fellowship for you?                                                                       _

Do you worry about whether or not you are saved?                                                              _ Do you now or have you in the past had doubts about your faith?                                          How often have you moved in the past five years?                                                            _ How often have you changed jobs in the last five years?                                                    _ Is there a problem (stress) situation in your home?                                                            _

Check where appropriate:

     Physical Illness Financial
Marital Alcoholism
     Drugs Emotional Illness
Death Other


Boan, D. M. (1978). The development and vali­ dation of a measure of religious expression (Doc­ toral dissertation, Rosemead Graduate School of Professional Psychology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA, 1977). Dissertation Abstracts Interna­tional, 40-04B, 1864.

Subsequent Research:

Ash, C., Crist, C., Salisbury, D., Dewell, M., & Boivin, M. J. (1996). Unilateral and bilateral brain hemispheric advantage on visual matching tasks and their relationship to styles of religiosity. Jour­nal of Psychology and Theology, 24, 133-154.


Ash, C., Crist, C., Salisbury, D., Dewell, M., & Boivin, M. J. (1996). Unilateral and bilateral brain hemispheric advantage on visual matching tasks and their relationship to styles of religiosity. Jour­nal of Psychology and Theology, 24, 133-154.

James, W. ( 1902). The varieties of religious ex­perience. New York: Random House.