Table of Contents
The Religious Fundamentalism Scale (REL) is one of 13 Minnesota Multi phasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) con tent scales developed by Wiggins (Wiggins, 1966). The term "fundamentalism" was not intended to refer to any specific group or formal religious body. Item content is most reflective of strong religious beliefs and religiously motivated behavior. Those with high scores on the REL see themselves as religious, churchgoing people who sub scribe to a number of fundamental religious beliefs regarding interpretation of the Bible, the second coming of Christ, and the existence of hell and the devil (Wiggins, 1966). They tend to view their faith as the only true one. In addition to firm religious belief, high REL scores may be indicative of more global rigidity, dogmatism, and intolerance of those whose beliefs are different (Cald well, 1988; Graham, 1987). Among psychiatric populations, elevated REL scores are associated with lower rates of substance abuse, impulsive behaviors, and family conflict, but higher rates of disorganization and delusional thinking (Graham, 1987; Lachar & Alexander, 1978). Low REL scoressug gest nonfundamentalist religious beliefs and may indicate greater tolerance of divergent beliefs and practices (Graham, 1987). The REL does not effectively distinguish be tween those with rigid versus flexible religious beliefs. Therefore, researchers and clinicians must interpret the REL with caution and perhaps only in the context of an additional indicator of dogmatism/rigidity.
The REL content scale was de rived from the MMPI (Hathaway & McKin ley, 1951), the most widely researched and utilized personality inventory in the world. In contrast to the empirical criterion keying procedures used in development of the standard MMPI scales, Wiggins (1966) developed the content scales to reflect the manifest or "overt" content of the person's self report. He therefore applied both intuitive face validity judgments and psychometric principles to collapse the original 26 MMPI item categories (including one labeled "Religious Attitudes") into mutually exclusive content scales that represent "the major substantive clusters of the MMPI" (p. 12). Empirical criteria for inclusion of an item within a content scale were a correlation of the item with its total scale of .30 or greater and the requirement that the correlation of the item with its scale exceed its correlation with all other scales. This process resulted in adoption of 13 content scales (including the REL) with maximal homogeneity and no item overlap. The scales are internally consistent and moderately independent (Wiggins, 1969; Wiggins, Gold berg, & Applebaum, 1971).
The REL is composed of 12 items that tap fundamental religious beliefs. Half of the items are either explicitly Christian or broadly Judeo-Christian. The remaining items are clearly religious but not specifically Judeo-Christian. The 12 items are spread throughout the MMPI. Each is scored l if true, with the exception of the last item (491), which is scored 1 if false. Norms are available for raw scores that range from O to 12 (higher scores indicate greater religious fundamentalism). REL scores may also be converted to T scores for clinical evaluation. In this case, a T score of 70 is considered high, whereas 40 is low.
Unfortunately, available normative data is based on standard administrations of the full MMPI. While no norms are available for separate administration of the REL items, research indicates minimal effect on results when single MMPI scales are administered separately (Perkins & Goldberg, 1964). The MMPI contains 566 items that cover a range of subject matter from physical condition to the subject's moral and social attitudes. Time for administration varies but rarely exceeds 90 minutes. Subjects must have a sixth-grade reading level and are instructed to respond true or false to every item. The MMPI is easily self-adminstered and requires no extra instruction or supervision. REL scale scores may be obtained by either hand scoring the 12 items or utilizing a computer scoring program. In contrast to the standard MMPI scales, no K-correction or other internal adjustment procedure is available to correct for self-favorableness versus self-criticalness on the REL scale. The Religious Fundamentalism Scale was eliminated from the MMPI-2 (Kohutek, 1992). Only one of the REL on the MMPI- 2, making calculation of the REL impossible from MMPI-2 data.
Wiggins (1966) normed the MMPI content scales using 16 small but distinct samples composed of military personnel, college students, and psychiatric patients. Mean REL scores ranged from 7.33 among psychiatric patients with "symptom reactions" to 5.11 for patients diagnosed with sociopathic personality disturbance. For a sample of 261 Air Force men, the mean was 7.16, whereas for 96 college students the mean was 5.91. Using the re vised Minnesota norms (Hathaway & Briggs, 1957), REL means were 6.32 for men (N = 225) and 7.17 for women (N = Subsequent state university norms (Illinois, Oregon, and Minnesota) (Wiggins et al., 1971) offered REL means of 5.75 for men (N = 291) and 6.32 for women (N = Finally, Colligan and Offord (1988) recently offered updated content scale norms utilizing contemporary census matched adult samples. Mean REL scales were 6.7 for men (N = 646) and 7.8 for women (N = 762). Across each of these normative studies, the range of REL raw scores is typically O to 12.
In spite of their relative brevity, each of the Wiggins content scales demonstrates consistent reliability across divergent samples (Taylor, Ptacek, Carithers, Griffin, & Coyne, 1972). Of the 13 scales, the REL offers the highest internal consistency coefficients. Coefficient alpha reliability was .67 for Air Force men and ranged from .82 to .89 (men) and .76 to .86 (women) in three samples of university students (Wiggins, 1966). Additionally, the REL was found to have test-retest reliability of .95 (men) and .93 (women) after a six-week interval in a sample of 203 college students.
In his original monograph, Wig gins (1966) utilized the MMPI content scales in discriminant analyses on several distinct psychiatric groups. The contribution of the REL to discriminating between diagnostic groups was negligible. An evaluation of the factor analytic convergence of the content scales with the Differential Personality Inventory scales among a large psychiatric sample found the REL to load highly on a factor titled "impulse expression versus religiosity." Here REL was negatively cor related with rebelliousness, impulsivity and deviant attitudes (Hoffman & Jackson, 1976). The REL also tends to show slight positive correlations with age and small negative correlations with education (Colli gan & Offord, 1988).
The REL tends to measure a highly specific dimension not represented on standard personality inventories. For example, the REL shows small and inconsistent correlations with the Adjective Checklist, California Personality Inventory, and the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule (Wiggins et al., 1971). The REL also correlates minimally and in the expected direction with the MMPI standard scales. For example, correlations with scales tapping distress and impulsivity were as follows in the Wiggins et al. (1971) study: F (distress) = -.26; Scale 2 (depres sion) = -.17; Scale 4 (psychopathic-deviate) = -.14; and Scale 9 (hypomania) = -.15. Finally, convergent validity for the REL was reported by Taylor et al. (1972), who found substantial correlations between the REL and the Omnibus Personality Inventory-Religious Orientations Scale (r = .83). These authors also utilized two example anchored scale questions (e.g.,. "How religious are you, in a fundamentalist sense?") with polar anchors being "strongly religious vs. not very religious in a fundamentalist sense" (p. 546). Correlations between the two anchored scales and the REL were .759 and .774.
A subsequently developed MMPI content scale, the Religious Identification Scale (RI: Panton, 1979) measures much the same con struct and includes 10 of the 12 REL items. The RI, however, currently lacks sufficient demonstration of its psychometric proper ties. The REL must be recommended as the best established MMPI scale of religious belief and behavior.
Religious Fundamentalism Scale of the MMPI
- Everything is turning out just like the prophets of the Bible said it would.
- I go to church almost every week.
- I believe in the second coming of Christ.
- I believe in a life hereafter.
- I am very religious (more than most people).
- I believe there is a Devil and a Hell in the afterlife.
- I believe there is a God.
- I feel sure that there is only one true religion.
- Christ performed miracles such as changing water into wine.
- I pray several times every week.
- I read the Bible several times a week.
- I have no patience with people who believe there is only one true religion.
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