The Scriptural Literalism Scale as­sesses the degree to which an individual be­lieves in a literal, God-inspired interpretation of the Bible-as opposed to viewing the Bible as ordinary literature not necessarily in­ spired directly by a personal deity. This scale is unidimensional and evaluates the degree of scriptural literalism along a continuum.


Hogge and Friedman (1967) constructed an initial pool of 30 statements concerning the interpretation of Scripture, which they administered to a sample of 43 undergraduate students. The 16 items having the highest correlation with the sum of the other items in the pool were selected for the final version of the instrument, which was administered as part of a comprehensive sur-

vey of student samples at several major uni­versities in Texas. Subjects respond to the individual items according to a 5-point Lik­ert Scale format: +1 = slightly agree, +2 = agree, +3 = strongly agree, -1 = slightly dis- agree, -2 = disagree, -3 = strongly disagree. The 16 items having the highest correla­tion with the sum of the other items in the pool were selected for a shorter version of the scale (SLSc). In addition, two 12-item parallel forms of the scale (SLSa and SLSb) were constructed. These items included such statements as “the scriptures contain religious truths,” “quotations appearing in the Scriptures are accurate,” “the Scriptures are a collection of myths,” and “the passage of time is accurately presented in the Scrip­tures.”

The three forms of the SLS were in­cluded as part of a longer form (the “attitude survey”) and were readministered to univer­sity students to develop norms for this in­strument.

Practical Considerations:

The instrument is worded in a straightforward manner that en­ables it to be easily administered and scored. Furthermore, it is a brief instrument than can be easily incorporated into a more comprehensive religious assessment battery, as was done in the Jennings (1972) study. It should be noted that some of the items are reverse scored.


Hogge and Fried­ man (1967) administered this instrument as part of a longer form to 309 University of Texas students, 375 University of Houston students, and 146 students from Southwest­ ern University at Georgetown, Texas. The overall mean for the SLSa scale was 3.83 (SD = 16.63). The overall mean for the SLSb scale was -0.61 (SD = 15.56). The overall mean for the SLSc version was 4.86 (SD = 22.53). Single-classification analysis of variance (with corresponding group means) was used to compare the scores of Unitarians and Baptists, Unitarians and Methodists, freshmen and seniors, and males and females. Hogge and Friedman (1967) report means and standard deviations for these groups as well.

Jennings (1972) used the Scriptural Liter­ alism Scale along with several other reli­gious and personality inventories with a sample of 364 students in a metropolitan ju­ nior college in Dallas, Texas. Using a differ­ ent scoring method from Hogge and Fried­ man, Jennings’ Likert Scale means and standard deviations across all of the 16 items in the scale for males under (n = 129) and over (n = 91) 25 years of age were 50.1 (SD = 16.0) and 55.3 (SD = 16.6) respectively. The Likert Scale means and standard devia­tions for females under (n = 101) and over (n = 37) 25 years of age were 55.7 (SD= 14.9) and 53.2 (SD = 17.9) respectively.


Split-half reliability coefficients are available in both the Hogge and Friedman (1967) and Jennings (1972) studies, with all above 0.90. Jennings also computed a Spearman-Brown coefficient value for re­ liability (r = 0.95) derived from the split­ half coefficient. Taken together, these val­ ues indicate a high degree on interitem consistency in measurement.


Scores compared on the Scriptural Literalism Scale for religious groups sub­stantially differ on the extent to which they take a more literal interpretation approach to the Scriptures. In the Hogge and Friedman study, both Baptist and Methodist students scored significantly higher on the scale than Unitarians. Freshmen tended to take a signif­icantly more literal approach than seniors, and females were significantly more literal than males. All of these between-group differences are consistent with previous find­ings pertaining to descriptive traits that are related io more conservative versus less con­servative views of scripture, and support the validity of this measure.

In Jennings (1972) findings, the Scrip­tural Literalism Scale was strongly corre­lated with McLean’s (1952) Religious World View Scale (r = 0.91), moderately correlated with the Cognitive Salience por­tion of King and Hunt’s (1975) Religious Position Scale (r= 0.63), and somewhat moderately correlated with the Religious Position Scale’s Extrinsic Religious Orien­tation portion (r = 0.35).

The Scriptural Literalism Scale

For each of the following statements, circle the choice that best indicates the extent of your agreement or disagreement as it describes your personal experiences:

1 = strongly disagree

4 = agree

2 = moderately disagree

5 = moderately agree

3 = disagree

6 = strongly agree

1. Life originated differently than is suggested by the Scriptures. (R) 2 3 4 5 6
2. The precise words spoken by God may be found in the Scriptures. 2 3 4 5 6
3. The Scriptures contain God’s rules for living. 2 3 4 5 6
4. The Scriptures are a product of man’s imagination. (R) 2 3 4 5 6
5. 2 3 4 5 6
6. The Scriptures contain religious truths. 2 3 4 5 6
7. The Scriptures should be regarded more as beautiful writing than as religious truths. (R) 2 3 4 5 6
8. The scriptural account of creation is accurate. 2 3 4 5 6
9. Quotations appearing in the Scripture are accurate. 2 3 4 5 6
10. We can put our trust in the teachings of the Scriptures. 2 3 4 5 6
11. Most of the writing in the Scriptures should be taken literally. 2 3 4 5 6
12. The miracles reported in the Scriptures actually occurred. 2 3 4 5 6
14. The Scriptures are the ultimate truth. 2 3 4 5 6
15. The Scriptures accurately predict future events. 2 3 4 5 6
16. The Scriptures are a collection of myths. (R) 2 3 4 5 6
17. There are more accurate accounts of history than the Scriptures. (R) 2 3 4 5 6


(R) Means the item is reversed-scored.


Hogge, J. H., & Friedman, S. T. (1967). The scriptural literalism scale: A preliminary report. The Journal of Psychology, 66, 275-279.

Jennings, F. L. (1972). A note on the reliability of several brief scales. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 157-164.

Subsequent Research:

Annis, L. V. ( 1976). Emergency helping and re­ligious behavior. Psychological Reports, 39, 151-158.


King, M. B., & Hunt, R. A. (1975). Measuring the religious variable: National replication. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 14, 13-22.

McLean, M. (1952). Religious world views. Motives, 12, 22-26.