Religious Values Scale (RVS) is based on Wor­ thington's (1988) model for understanding the values of highly religious clients of psy­chotherapy. In Worthington's model, clients who are highly committed to their religion will evaluate their interpersonal worlds in terms of three primary value dimensions. These value dimensions are the authority af­ forded to sacred writings, the authority af­ forded to religious leaders, and the degree of identification with his or her religious group. In addition, Worthington (1988) adds the notion that each person has a "zone of tolerance" handling the inevitable different tolerance for different religious groups (3 items).

Practical Considerations:

No special skills are required to administer or score this paper-and-pencil measure. McCullough and Worthington (1995) divided participants into high and low levels on each of Worthington and colleagues' (1988) seven con­ structs based on the means and standard de­viations of their present sample of students. Specific directions for administration and scoring can be found in the set of materials available on request from Dr. Worthington at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Three primary norm samples have been used. All three samples were composed of undergraduate student volunteers at a large southeastern university. The first sample (Worthington et al., 1988) consisted of 257 students with most being of 18 to 25 years old (88%). The racial composition of this sample was 197 Caucasian (78%), 43 African-American (17%), and 11 other ethnicity (5%). African­ Americans in this sample were significantly more religious than Caucasians on six of the seven subscales.

The second sample (Worthington et al., 1989) consisted of 252 students. Since the theory is thought to apply only to highly re­ligious people, only the top one third of the sample were selected based on their scores according to religious commitment.

The third sample (McCullough & Wor­thington, 1995) consisted of 148 students. The racial composition of this sample was 104 Caucasian (70%), 29 African-American (21%), 6 Asian (4%), and 9 other ethnicity (5%). Collectively, these three groups formed the standardization sample.


With the first sample (Worthing­ ton et al., 1988), estimates of internal consis­tency using Cronbach's alpha were calcu­lated for the seven empirical factors found through principle components factor analysis with varimax rotation. A factor loading of .45 was considered the minimum for inclusion of an item on a factor. The tolerance for those holding different views of Scripture scale was not supported and was replaced by a fac­ tor labeled "preference for a counselor of similar attitudes." Cronbach's alphas for the seven factors ranged from .99 for religious commitment to .47 for preference for a coun­selor of similar attitudes.

In the second sample (Worthington et al., 1989), estimates of internal consistency were generally higher and were calculated for the six scales corresponding to the original the­ory (Worthington, 1988). Cronbach's alphas ranged from .84 for authority afforded sacred writings to .64 for tolerance for others hold­ing different views on Scripture. Individual item-to-scale correlation were reported, and items with low item to total scale correlations were dropped from analysis.

In the third sample (McCullough & Wor­ thington, 1995), estimates of internal con­sistency were calculated for the seven origi­nal subscales. Cronbach's alphas ranged from .92 for the religious commitment sub­ scale to .73 for the authority afforded reli­gious groups and the tolerance for different views of leadership subscales.


Worthington et al. (1988) examined the construct validity of the RVS by conducting principle components factor analysis using varimax rotation. The princi­ple components analysis found seven fac­ tors and generally supported the theoretical factor structure.

Pearson correlations were also calculated between each scale of the RVS and self-re­ ports of church attendance, attendance at other church meetings, participation in reli­gious leadership, and number of leadership positions held. Of the 28 correlations, 25 were significant (p = .01).

The RVS scales were correlated with the 11 subscales of the Basic Religiosity Scales (King & Hunt, 1972). Of 77 correlations, 74 were significant (p = .01), with most corre­lations ranging between .4 and .8.

The RVS scales were also correlated with the four subscales of Glock and Stark's (1965) scale. No significant correla­tions were found between the seven RVS scales and biblical knowledge. Of the religious belief, practice, and experience sub­ scales, 19 of 21 correlations were signifi­cant.

Worthington et al. (1989) conducted con­firmatory factor analysis of the RVS. The goodness of fit index of .61 was below the acceptable value of .9, so the theoretical model was not supported.

The same data was subjected to ex­ploratory factor analysis. Eight factors were identified. The scale that was thought to measure the authority of Scripture appeared to include two components-a value of Scripture in daily life and a doctrinal belief in the authority of Scripture. The scale thought to measure authority of group identification appeared to include two compo­nents, also-personally valuing the group and looking to the group to provide norms for behavior. The scale thought to measure the authority afforded religious leaders was supported. The hypothetical structure of tolerance for people with different religious views was not validated. Instead, the three factors revealed showed a preference for similarly religious people who (1) give ad­ vice, (2) give counsel, and (3) provide affil­iation. Overall, it is clear that reasonable ef­ forts have been exerted to establish the Reliability and validity of the RVS.

Religious Values Scale

Instructions: After each of the following 62 statements circle one of the numbers (1 through 5) that best describes how true the statement is of you.

  • l = Not at all true of me
  • 2 = Somewhat true of me
  • 3 = Moderately true of me
  • 4 = Mostly true of me
  • 5 = Totally true of me

  1. l. I am concerned that my behavior and speech reflect the teachings of my religion.
  2. I do not accept what I hear in regard to religious beliefs without first questioning the va- lidity of it.
  3. It is important to me to conform to my religious standards of behavior.
  4. I enjoy spending time with others of my religious affiliation.
  5. Religious beliefs influence all my dealings in life.
  6. It is important to me to spend periods of time in private religious thought and medita­tion.
  7. I feel there are many more important things in life than religion.
  8. I enjoy working in the activities of my religious organization.
  9. I keep well informed about my local religious group and I have some influence on its decisions.
  10. I make financial contributions to my religious organization.
  11. I often read books and magazines about my faith.
  12. I spend time trying to grow in understanding of my faith.
  13. I have personally tried to convert someone to my faith.
  14. I talk about my religion with friends, neighbors, or fellow workers.
  15. Religion is especially important to me because it answers many questions about the meaning of life.
  16. My religious beliefs lie behind my whole approach to life.
  17. I would break fellowship with my local religious group if there were things being said of me that are damaging and untrue.
  18. I am willing to be persecuted for my religious beliefs.
  19. My living environment (room, apartment, house, office) reflects my religious beliefs (i.e., posters, plaques, bumper stickers).
  20. I would publicly defend my religious beliefs.
  21. I believe the scriptures of my faith are completely true.
  22. I think it is important to obey my faith's scripture.
  23. My faith's scriptures have practical value in the modem world.
  24. I read my faith's scriptures almost every day.
  25. I memorize my faith's scriptures.
  26. I depend on my faith's scriptures to help me make decisions in conflict situations.
  27. I have experienced the usefulness of my faith's scriptures in my daily life.
  28. It is important to understand the historical significance of my faith's scriptures.
  29. I understand my faith's scriptures.
  30. I like to study my faith's scriptures.
  31. I believe that my faith's scriptures are important but other books of wisdom are equally important.
  32. I enjoy being with people whose attitudes toward my faith's scriptures are similar to my own.
  33. I prefer to take advice from people whose attitude toward my faith's scriptures is similar to my own.
  34. If I went to counseling, I would like a counselor whose attitude toward my faith's scrip- tures is similar to mine.
  35. What other members of my religious group expect of me is important.
  36. I avoid doing things that members of my local religious group would disapprove of.
  37. I feel accepted by the members of my local religious group.
  38. I share the goals of the members of my local religious group.
  39. The standards of my local religious group guide me in making decisions.
  40. If I have a conflict with what my local religious group tells me is right, I go along with the religious group.
  41. I couldn't get along without involvement in my local religious group.
  42. Being recognized by non-members as a member of my local religious group gives me a good feeling.
  43. I can get along with the goals of my local religious group but not with the overall goals of the whole organizatior. (e.g., national or world-wide religious group).
  44. I prefer the local chapter of my religious group to the larger overall organization.
  45. The goals of my local religious organization are the same as the goals of the entire orga­nization.
  46. It is more important to me to belong to a particular part of my religious group than to think of myself as merely Christian or Jewish or Muslim (or other faith).
  47. I enjoy being with people in my local religious group more than people who are not in that group.
  48. I enjoy being with people who belong to my overall religious organization.
  49. I prefer not to take advice from people outside my local religious group.
  50. I prefer not to take advice from people outside my overall religious organization.
  51. If I went to counseling, I would like a counselor whose faith is similar to mine.
  52. It is a religious duty for me to obey governmental authorities.
  53. One should follow the guidance of one's pastor, priest, or rabbi without question or com- plaint.
  54. It is a religious obligation for children to obey their parents.
  55. Husbands should exercise wise, loving authority over their wives.
  56. It is a religious obligation even for adults to obey their parents.
  57. When counselors make suggestions, they should be obeyed.
  58. When the board of elders (or the leaders of a local religious group) take a stand, the con­gregation should follow their leading.
  59. One should obey the leader(s) of one's organized religion (e.g., Pope, President of de­ nomination, or other leader).
  60. I enjoy being with people who share my attitudes toward human authorities.
  61. I prefer not to take advice from people whose attitudes toward human authorities differs from my own.
  62. If I went in to counseling, I would like a counselor whose attitude toward human au­thorities is similar to mine.


For a copy of the Religious Val­ues Scale, contact Dr. Everett Worthington Jr. Department of Psychology Virginia Commonwealth University 808 West Franklin Street Richmond, VA 23284-2018

Subsequent Research:

McCullough, M. E., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1995). College students' perceptions of a psychotherapist's treatment of a religious issue: Partial replication and extension. Journal of Counseling and Development, 73, 626-34.


Glock, C., & Stark, R. (1965). Religion and so­ciety in tension. Chicago: Rand McNally.

King, M. B., & Hunt, R. A. (1972). Measuring the religious variable: Replication. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, I I, 240-251.

Morrow, D., Worthington, E. L., & McCullough, M. E. (1993). Observers' perceptions of a coun­ selor's treatment of a religious issue. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 452-456.

Worthington, E. L., Jr. (1988). Understanding the values of religious clients: A model and its ap­ plication to counseling. Journal of Counseling Psy­chology, 35, 166-174.

Worthington, E. L., Jr., Hsu, K., Gowda, K. K., & Bleach, E. (I 988, November). Preliminary tests of Worthington s ( I 988) theory of important values in religious counseling. Paper presented at the First International Congress on Christian Counseling, Atlanta.

Worthington, E. L., Jr., Berry, J. T., Hsu, K., Gowda, K. K., Bleach, E., & Bursley, K. H. (1989, October). Measuring religious values: Factor ana­ lytic study of the Religious Values Survey. Paper presented at the meeting of the Virginia Psycholog­ical Association, Richmond.