RELIGIOUS STATUS INTERVIEW

Variable:

The Religious Status Interview (RSI) is a measure of Christian religious maturity. Malony (1985) defines Christian maturity in the following way: Mature Christians are those who have identity, integrity and inspiration. They "identify" in that their self-understanding is as children of God-created by Him and destined by Him to live according to a di­ vine plan. They have "integrity" in that their daily life is lived in the awareness that they have been saved by God's grace from the guilt of sin and that they can freely respond to God's will in the present. They have "inspiration" in that they live with the sense that God is available to sus­tain, comfort, encourage, and direct their lives on a daily basis. (p. 28)

Description:

This one-hour interview schedule was originally intended to provide mental health professionals with an instru­ment that assesses religious maturity, partic­ularly as it relates to optimal religious func­tioning. Malony (1985) maintains that this tool is useful for the mental health profes­sional in three types of decisions: diagnosis, general mental status, and treatment. The in­terview's use, however, is not limited to the mental health professional.

The RSI assesses eight dimensions of re­ligious experience based on Pruyser (1976):(a) Awareness of God (6 questions), (b) Ac­ceptance of God's Grace and Steadfast Love (4 questions), (c) Being Repentant and Re­ sponsible (5 questions), (d) Knowing God's Leadership and Direction (3 questions), (e) Involvement in Organized Religion (4 ques­tions), (f) Experiencing Fellowship (3 ques­tions), (g) Being Ethical (4 questions), and (h) Affirming Openness in Faith (4 ques­tions). The instrument measures overall reli­gious maturity across all dimensions, though a more specific maturity may be evaluated on any of the dimensions as well. Malony (1985) identifies several assump­tions or characteristics of the RSI. First, "re­ligion," as identified in the RSI, is under­ stood as a "substantive social reality rather than a dynamic subjective motivation" (p. 26). Second, the interview is limited to Christian religion, not religion in general. Third, the interview attempts to assess how substantive beliefs function in the life of the individual being evaluated. Fourth, the interview assumes that what people say about their religion is the essence of their religious faith and, therefore, is admittedly con­ founded with verbal ability. Fifth, it is assumed that people should be able to talk about their faith spontaneously.

Scoring of responses is provided within the interview itself, with the highest score (5) reflecting the most mature response and the lowest score (1) reflecting the least ma­ture response. The rating for each item is placed on the score sheet provided at the be­ ginning of the instrument and the responses across the items for each of the eight dimen­sions are simply summed. The total range of scores is between 32 and 160.

Practical Considerations:

Great care must be taken in adminstering any interview. The key to a good interview is to not lead the re­spondent toward any response and to make the interview process as standard as possi­ble. Training for interviewers is recom­mended. The authors have provided a set of instructions at the beginning of the inter­ view instrument.

The procedure usually involves writing down answers in the space provided on the interview form and then later going back and scoring the responses. It is recom­mended that the interview sessions also be taped. The authors estimate that scoring each interview takes approximately one hour in addition to the interview itself.

Norms/Standardization:

Normative data for this hour-long interview schedule has not been collected.

Reliability:

Malony (1988) reports that the RSI is a tool with "uneven" reliability. Yagel (1982, as reported in Malony, 1988) found inter-rater reliability coefficients among three raters of interview responses of.66 to .74, with an intraclass correlation co­ efficient of .85, when using the total matu­rity score over all eight categories. These re­sults indicated acceptable inter-rater reliability. However, only one subcategory, Involvement in Organized Religion, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of .75, had acceptable inter-rater reliability. Thus, when comparing raters, only the total RSI matu­rity score was acceptably reliable.

Davis (1985, as reported in Malony, 1988) discovered reasonably high test-retest reliability over a two week period with fe­ male Protestant church members. The total maturity score reliability coefficient was .93. All of the subcategory reliability coeffi­cients were above .84 except the Being Repentant and Responsible scale, which was .60. It appears that the RSI assesses a trait of religious functioning that is stable over time.

The reliability results from these two studies utilized an earlier version of the RSI. The version of the RSI included here showed overall maturity scores to be reli­able both in terms of test-retest (r = .74, Jackson, 1987, as reported in Malony, 1988) and between raters (r = .89, Hadlock, 1987, as reported in Malony, 1988). Once again, with one exception (the Being Ethical scale), the individual categories were not found to be acceptably reliable.

Validity:

Several studies reported in Malony (1988) indicate that the RSI is a clinical tool of "moderate" validity. Nelson (1985) found that the total RSI score could discriminate among persons judged by their pastors to be very mature, moderately mature, and imma­ture. Tilley (1984) discovered that Chris­ tians in mental hospitals scored lower on the RSI than Christians who came to visit them. Tilley later (1985) found that Christian psy­chiatric inpatients scored lower on the RSI than Christian psychiatric outpatients. Atkinson (1986) discovered that the RSI had predictive validity in that women who scored high on the measure subsequently re­ ported less distress from stressful life events, after controlling for the number and recency of such stressful events.

Religious Status Interview

Interviewer:          Interviewee:                   Setting:                   Date:   _
Directions for Interviewer:
1. Ask the interviewee the questions numbered 1 through 33 in order.
2. Take down his/her answers in the appropriate places in abbreviated form.
3. Score each subscale as you go along by glancing over the ratings from l to 5 (and sometimes back to 1 again), and circling the one rating which is best reflected in the interviewee's answer. Remember that a rating of 5 always reflects the most mature a11- swer and a rating of 1 the least mature answer.
4. Do not ask additional questions which are not indicated on this interview. However, several prompting questions may on occasion be appropriate when the information re­ ceived in the answer is not sufficient to render a rating. These prompting questions are limited to the following:
"Could you tell me more about that?" "Could you explain that more fully?" "Can you give me an example of that?" "Can you think of another example?"
5. Place ratings in the blanks indicated below. Total scores within each subscale first, and then total these for an overall score. Norms have not yet been established, but the higher the score, the more mature the faith.
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Scoring Totals:
I. Awareness of God
A
+
B
+
C
+
D
+
E
+
F
=
II. Acceptance of God's
Grace and Steadfast Love
+
+
+
=
III. Being Repentant and Responsible
+
+
+
+
=
IV. Knowing God's
Leadership and Direction
+
+
=
V Involvement in Organized Religion
+
+
+
=
VI. Experiencing Fellowship
+
+
=
image
"The number of items added to create a total score varies. For example, six items are used to score the Awareness of God subscale but only four items to score the Acceptance of God's Grace and Steadfast Love subscale, etc.
VII. Being Ethical
VIII. Affirming
Openness in Faith Faith
+ + + =
+ + + =
TOTAL SCORE:                       _ RELIGIOUS STATUS INTERVIEW

I. Awareness of God

image
QUESTION:
1. Who or what is God to you?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Attitude toward God
RATING:
1 = This person demonstrates an indifferent or impersonal attitude towards God.
*2 =
3 = This person merely acknowledges that God has a role in his/her life.
4=
5 = This person stands in awe before God as a creature aware of his/her Creator.
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QUESTION:
2. Who or what is Jesus Christ to you?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE:
RATING:
1 = This person has an indifferent or impersonal attitude toward Christ.
2=
3 = This person merely names one or two roles Christ plays in general but is unable to apply them personally.
4=
5 = This person mentions several of the roles Christ plays in human life and is able to apply them personally.
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QUESTION:
3. In your day to day life, for
which things do you depend upon God and for which things do you not?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Sense of Dependence of God
RATING:
1 = This person is totally independent of God. They completely deny God's capacity to in­ fluence their life.
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• descriptions of even-numbered ratings were not provided in the original instrument.
2=
3 = This person overemphasizes his/her independence from God.
4=
5 = This person expresses awareness of his/her dependence upon the Creator, but also recog- nizes his/her own capabilities.
4=
3 = This person overemphasizes his/her dependence on God.
2=
I = This person is overly dependent on God, totally denying his/her own capabilities or
power to act.
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QUESTION:
4. When problems seem out of your control, what do you do?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Sense of Creatureliness
RATING:
I = This person shows an attitude of total resignation, giving up on life and is discounting of his/her own power.
2=
3 = This person is troubled by his/her creaturely limitations.
4=
5 = This person shows humility in the face of life's besetting problems and a realistic aware­ ness of his/her own creaturely limitations but does not deny his/her own capacity for pro­ ductive action.
4=
3 = This person minimizes some of the real limitation of his/her creatureliness.
2=
I = This person is thoroughly self-aggrandizing, denying his/her own creaturely limitations.
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QUESTION:
5. Why do you worship God?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: D. Use of worship RATING:
I = This person sees worship as something he/she should do as a duty or obligation.
2=
3 = This person's worship serves as a means of meeting his/her own needs.
4=
5 = This person's worship serves primarily as an expression of reverence and love towards God.
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QUESTION:
6. In what situations
do you pray to God and why?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: E. Use of Prayer RATING:
I = This person sees prayer as something he/she should do as a duty or an obligation.
2=
3 = This person's prayer serves as a means of meeting his/her own needs.
4=
5 = This person's prayer serves basically as a means of spiritual sustenance and communica­ tion with God, including honest expression of concerns.
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II. Acceptance of God’s Grace and Steadfast Love

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QUESTION:
7. How does God seem to respond to you when you sin?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. View of God's Love
RATING:
1 = This person views God as basically punitive, judgmental and distant, not loving.
2=
3 = This person sees God's love as conditional, as dependent on his/her actions.
4=
5 = This person views God as loving him/her unconditionally.
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QUESTION:
8. How do you respond
to God's love and forgiveness?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Response to God's Love
RATING:
1 = This person completely fails to use God's love and forgiveness as a motivation for re- sponsible change or action.
2=
3 = This person uses God's love and forgiveness as an impetus for some minimal change.
4=
5 = This person uses God's love and forgiveness as an impetus for new living and responsi­ ble action.
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QUESTION:
9. What feelings come up when you think of God's love?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Appreciation of God's Love
RATING:
1 = This person does not appreciate and experience God's love.
2=
3 = This person has some appreciation or experience of God's love, but lacks a sense of joy and gratitude.
4=
5 = This person appreciates and experiences God's love, manifested by a sense of joy and gratitude.
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QUESTION:
10. Why do you think God allows personal suffering in your life?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: D. Personal Meaning in Life's Problems
RATING:
I = This person completely denies his/her problems and sorrows.
2=
3 = This person admits he/she has problems or sorrows but sees no higher meaning to them.
4=
5 = This person has the ability to find meaning in the suffering and difficulties of life. This meaning is based on trust in God and His goodness.
4=
3 = This person struggles with why God allows suffering in his/her life.
2=
1 = This person is totally unable to meaningfully integrate life's difficulties and sorrows
with his/her faith.
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III. Being Repentant and Responsible

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QUESTION:
11. In general, who or what causes your problems?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Locus of Control
RATING:
I = This person projects sole responsibility for personal difficulties or sin onto God, parents, friends, or situations.
2=
3 = This person lays excessive blame on others for difficulties or sin.
4=
5 = This person accurately perceives personal responsibility without denying other factors such as the environment in personal difficulties or sin.
4=
3 = This person tends to internalize excessive personal responsibility for difficulties or sin.
2=
I = This person sees himself/herself as having total responsibility for personal difficulties or
sin, completely denying any environmental factors.
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QUESTION:
12. How do you handle
your own angry feelings?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Acceptance of Feelings
RATING:
I = This person denies his/her feelings and impulses. He/she does not see them as a part of being human.
2=
3 = This person is aware of his/her negative feelings, but does not accept them as a legiti­ mate part of being human.
4=
5 = This person is aware of his/her negative feelings and accepts them as a legitimate part of being human.
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QUESTION:
13. How do you/eel when you have wronged someone?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Motivation and Repentance
RATING:
1 = This person's attitude of repentance is based on guilt feelings or self-depreciation rather than concern for the offended person or solution of the problem.
2=
3 = This person's attitude of repentance shows elements of both guilt and concern for the other.
4=
5 = This person's attitude of repentance is based on concern to correct the situation, a feeling of constructive sorrow.
4=
3 = This person recognizes minimal need for repentance.
2=
1 = This person completely denies any need for repentance, showing no concern for the of­ fended person or solution of the problem.
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QUESTION:
14. What do you do when you have wronged someone?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: D. Requesting Forgiveness RATING:
1 = This person completely denies or rationalizes any need to ask for forgiveness from an- other person.
2=
3 = This person seldom asks for forgiveness.
4=
5 = This person is able to request and accept forgiveness from others without feeling threat- ened or self-depreciating.
4=
3 = This person has some difficulty accepting forgiveness from others.
2=
1 = This person may ask for forgiveness, but is unable to really accept it. This individual feels very unworthy of receiving forgiveness.
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QUESTION:
15. When someone has wronged you,
how do you respond to him or her?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: E. Granting Forgiveness
RATING:
I = This person cannot forgive others. This individual continues to feel anger, resentment, bitterness or suspicion towards them.
2=
3 = This person forgives superficially, but still feels resentment.
4=
5 = This person is forgiving of others without experiencing continued resentment towards
them.
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IV. Knowing God’s Leadership and Direction

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QUESTION:
16. How do you make major decisions in your life?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Trust in God's Leadership
RATING:
l = This person totally lacks trust in God's leadership, taking on complete responsibility for directing his/her life.
2=
3 = This person minimizes the role of God's leadership in his/her decision-making process.
4=
5 = This person expresses trust in God's leadership for his/her life yet also recognizes
his/her role in that process.
4=
3 = This person tends to over spiritualize guidance in life, minimizing his/her own power.
2=
I = This person demonstrates a naive trust in God, completely denying his/her own power to direct his/her life.
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QUESTION:
17. What do you think your future is going to be like?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Sense of Hope RATING:
I = This person feels hopeless. He/she has an attitude of resignation in life.
2=
3 = This person feels somewhat pessimistic.
4=
5 = This person expresses an optimistic, but realistic hope based on trust in God, without
denying present problems. This person is confident that God is in control.
4=
3 = This person feels somewhat unrealistically optimistic.
2=
1 = This person completely denies his/her problems, expressing a naive, unrealistic opti­mism.
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QUESTION: ANSWER:
18. How does your faith relate to your various roles in your family, occupation,
and community?
SUBSCALE: C. Role Identity
RATING:
1 = This person has a thoroughly diffuse or unclear role identity, which does not provide any meaning in relation to his/her faith.
2=
3 = This person has a partially defined role identity, but does not relate it to his/her faith.
4=
5 = This person has a sense of positive role identity which provides meaning in relation to his/her faith.
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V. Involvement in Organized Religion

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QUESTION:
19. How often do you attend the activities of your church or religious community?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Level of Involvement
RATING:
1 = This person attends church only on holidays. 2 = This person attends church once a month.
3 = This person attends church every other week. 4 = This person attends church one time a week.
5 = This person attends church twice a week or more.
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QUESTION:
20. What part do you
play in church activities?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Active-Passive Involvement
RATING:
1 = This person completely avoids participation in worship or other religious activities.
2=
3 = This person participates when asked, but does not initiate involvement.
4=
5 = This person shows active involvement and commitment in worship and other religious activities.
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QUESTION: ANSWER:
21. Do you give money to the church or other religious organizations? What percentage of your income would you estimate you give?
SUBSCALE: C. Commitment of Finances
RATING:
1 = This person gives no money to the church.
2=
3 = This person gives periodically to the church, but less than 10% of his/her income.
4=
5 = This person regularly gives 10% or more of his/her income to the church.
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QUESTION:
22. Why do you attend church?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: D. Reason for Involvement
RATING:
1 = This person views involvement in a religious community as unnecessary for expression of his/her faith.
2=
3 = This person is ambivalent about the importance of his/her involvement in a religious community.
4=
5 = This person is involved in church or group as an expression of a desire to grow in his/her faith (i.e., service, study, fellowship, worship).
4=
3 = This person is involved for both social gain and expression of his/her faith.
2=
1 = This person is involved in a church or religious group solely for emotional or status needs, rather than to grow in his/her faith.
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VI. Experiencing Fellowship

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QUESTION: ANSWER:
23. Tell me about your friendships?
Who are they? Where did you meet them? How close are you to them?
SUBSCALE: A. Intimacy with other Believers
RATING:
1 = This person is excessively dependent on other believers as a means of protecting him­ self/herself from non-Christian influences.
2=
3 = This person seems to overly rely on relationships with Christians, and to neglect his/her relationships with non-Christians.
4=
5 = This person experiences relationships at various levels of intimacy, including inter-de­ pendent, growth-oriented, intimate relationships with at least a few believers and a few non-believers.
4=
3 = This person has very few intimate relationships with believers.
2=
l = This person totally lacks intimate relationships with either Christians or non-Christians, perhaps feeling isolated, estranged and suspicious.
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QUESTION:
24. What does being part of the family
of God mean to you?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Identification as a Child of God RATING:
l = This person expresses a sense of exclusiveness in his/her identity with the family of God. This individual may display a self-righteous, judgmental attitude or condemn others who express their faith differently.
2=
3 = This person's identity with the family of God includes some sense of superiority over those seen to be outside the family of God.
4=
5 = This person identifies positively with the family of God, including a sense of community with the "people of God" and an attitude of humble appreciation for salvation.
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QUESTION:
25. How do you feel about people from different cultures or races?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Identification with Humanity
RATING:
l = This person displays a parochial, ethnocentric attitude an overidentification with one subculture, group or sect only, excluding all unlike self.
2=
3 = This person identifies with humanity to some degree, but shows considerable favoritism for his/her own group.
4=
5 = This person expresses an identification with all of humanity, a sense of commonality as God's creatures.
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VII. Being Ethical

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QUESTION:
26. How do you decide what is right or wrong?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Ethical Commitment and Flexibility RATING:
1 = This person lacks clear commitment to meaningful ethical principles for his/her life.
2=
3 = This person has commitment to ethical principles, but the commitment is weak or ill de- fined.
4=
5 = This person follows his/her ethical principles in a flexible but committed manner.
4=
3 = This person is committed to some ethical principles, but lacks some flexibility.
2=
1 = This person views his/her ethical principles as absolute law, following them in a very rigid manner.
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QUESTION:
27. How does your faith influence
your sense of what is right and wrong?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: b. Relationship between Faith and Ethics
RATING:
1 = This person's faith is completely unrelated to his/her ethics. This person's ethics may be based primarily on a social convention or a fear of punishment.
2=
3 = This person's ethics are affected by both social convention and some less integrated as­ pects of his/her faith.
4=
5 = This person's religious faith strongly underlies and guides all of his/her ethics.
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QUESTION:
28. What personal and social ethical issues are you concerned about and how do you deal with them?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Emphasis on Personal and Social Ethics
RATING:
1 = This person expresses no concern about either personal or social ethics.
2=
3 = This person neglects either personal or social ethics.
4=
5 = This person shows concern for personal and social ethics. He/she acts from awareness of both and is concerned about individual responsibility and social justice.
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QUESTION:
29. What satisfaction do you receive
from your job, vocation, or what you do?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: D. Serving Others in Work Situation RATING:
1 = This person is very self-centered in his/her work or vocation, focusing only on his/her own status, financial, or social needs.
2=
3 = This person focuses his/her motivations partially on his/her own needs and partially on the needs of others.
4=
5 = This person has a sense that he/she is serving others in his/her work or vocation, rather than just focusing on his/her own needs.
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VIII. Affirming Openness in Faith

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QUESTION:
30. How does your faith affect different aspects of your life?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: A. Centrality of Faith
RATING:
l = This person's faith is very compartmentalized in that it does not seem to relate to any other aspects of life.
2=
3 = This person's faith is only moderately related to some aspects of his/her life.
4=
5 = This person's faith provides a directive for all aspects of his/her life.
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QUESTION:
31. How many times during the past year did you do some reading about
your faith or had some discussions about faith with others?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: B. Growth in Faith
RATING:
1 = This person spent no time in the last year discussing or reading about his/her faith.
2=
3 = This person spent considerable time in the last year discussing or reading about his/her faith, but expressed no desire to grow in faith, reflecting instead motives of duty or habit.
4=
5 = This person spent significant time in the last year reading about his/her faith and/or dis­ cussing it with others, as an expression of a desire to grow in faith.
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QUESTION:
32. How do you respond to people who do not believe as you do?
ANSWER:
SUBSCALE: C. Openness to Divergent Viewpoints RATING:
l = This person's faith is very rigid and unable to tolerate differing ideas. This individual may reject or distort these different ideas and practices in order to maintain his/her
own position.
2=
3 = This person is unable to tolerate new ideas in some areas of faith.
4=
5 = While expressing confidence in his/her own view, this person shows a tolerance for others' viewpoints and a willingness to examine and try to understand other people's be­ liefs.
4=
3 = This person is easily influenced by others' beliefs and frequently vacillates among them.
2=
l = This person is unsure about his/her beliefs. His/her beliefs change completely depending upon whom he/she is with.
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QUESTION: ANSWER:
33. Can you name some dimensions, or parts, of your faith that are important to you.
SUBSCALE: D. Differentiation of Faith RATING:
1 = This person's faith is thoroughly undifferentiated and composed of a small number of categories or elements. Ideas are global and overgeneralized. (1 part)
2=
3 = This person's faith is composed of only a few categories or elements. These ideas include generalizations. (3 parts)
4=
5 = This person's faith is differentiated and is composed of a relatively large number of cat­ egories or elements. Ideas are multiple and specific rather than overgeneralized. (5 parts)
Reprinted with permission of author.

Location:

The interview is unpublished but information may be obtained from the au­thor through the Graduate School of Psy­chology, Fuller Theological Seminary, 180

N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101. The most thorough discussion of the measure found in the published literature is Malony (1988).

Subsequent Research:

Other than a number of unpublished master's theses and doctoral dissertations at Fuller Seminary, no subsequent research using this measure was found.

References

Atkinson, B. E. (1986). Religious maturity and psychological distress among older Christian women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Gradu­ ate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Semi­ nary, Pasadena, CA.

Davis, S. P. (1985). Interviewer reliability of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished master's thesis, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller The­ ological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Hadlock, M. N. (1987). Assessing religious ma­turity: Inter-rater reliability of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished master's thesis, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Semi­ nary, Pasadena, CA.

Jackson, C. (1987). The test-retest reliability of the Religious Status Interview: A reconfirmation. Unpublished master's thesis, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Malony, H. N. (1985). Assessing religious matu­rity. In E. M. Stem (Ed.), Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 25-34). New York: Hayworth Press.

Malony, H. N. (1988). The clinical assessment of optimal religious functioning. Review of Reli­gious Research, 30(1), 3-17.

Nelson, D. 0. (1985). The construction and ini­tial validation of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Nelson, D. 0., & Malony, H. N. (1982). The Re­ligious Status Interview. Unpublished manuscript.

Pruyser, P. (1976). The minister as diagnosti­cian. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Tilley, S. B. (1984). The relationship between religion and mental health: An application of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished master's thesis, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller The­ ological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Tilley, S. B. (1985). Religious maturity and mental health: Verification of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Grad­ uate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

Yagel, J.C. (1982). Initial inter-rater reliability of the Religious Status Interview. Unpublished master's thesis, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.