The Shepherd Scale is designed to assess Christian identity. A unique character­istic of this instrument is that it is based on an explicit biblical operationalization of the Christian faith. The subtitle of the article where the scale is found (Bassett, Sadler, Ko­bischen, Skiff, Merrill, Atwater, & Liver­ more, 1981) is “Separating the Sheep from the Goats.” Sheep and goats refer to New Testament (Matt. 25:32) terms used by Jesus to distinguish Christians from non-Chris­ tians. The authors acknowledge that develop­ing such an instrument is fraught with theo­ logical danger and may give the appearance of spiritual arrogance. But the authors also believe that “there is, to some degree, an ob­ servable and measurable life pattern which is distinctively Christian” (p. 342). The au­thors’ attempt to measure such a distinctive pattern is thus called the Shepherd Scale.


The scale consists of 38 items presented in a 4-point (“true” to “not true”)· Likert-type format. The items are conceptu­ally divided into two subscales: a 13-item belief subscale and a 25-item Christian walk subscale. The belief subscale measures be­liefs about God in general and about Jesus Christ in particular. The Christian walk sub­ scale measures behaviors, values, and atti­tudes consistent with a Christian lifestyle.

The items were based on the authors’ reading of New Testament passages that de­ scribe the qualifications, characteristics, and /or behaviors of a Christian. These passages were grouped according to common themes, and an item was written for each group. The relevant scriptural passages are presented next to each item in the Bassett et al. (1981) article but are not included in this volume and, of course, should not be included in scale administration. An effort was made to write the items in a nonsectarian fashion.

This scale is one of the most frequently cited scales from 1985 to 1994 in the Jour­nal of Psychology and Theology and the Journal of Psychology and Christianity (Jones, Ripley, Kurusu, & Worthington, 1998), two journals that are explicit in their purpose of integrating psychology with claims of the Christian faith.

Practical Considerations:

Administering and scoring of the Shepherd Scale are straightforward. Each item is scored be­ tween one (“not true”) and four (“true”), and the overall score is computed by simply summing the scores across all items. Thus scores can range from 38 to 152. No spe­cific cutoff is suggested for separating Christians from non-Christians.

Norms/Standardization: Four studies have reported normative data on the Shepherd Scale:

et al. (1981)
college students
Bassett et al. (1981)
Adult suburbanites
Pecnik &
State univ.
Epperson (1985)
State univ.


Bassett et al. (1981) report a test­ retest (at a two-week interval) reliability coef­ficient in their Christian college sample of .82 and found a split-half reliability coefficient of with the same sample. Cronbach’s alpha with this sample was .86. A modified Shep­herd Scale (using 29 of the 38 items) by Boivin, Darling, and Darling (1987) had a KR-20 reliability coefficient of .73.


Bassett et al. (1981) reported that among their Christian college sample, the Shepherd Scale correlates .41 with Glock and Stark’s (1966) Dimensions of Religious Commitment Scale and .64 with King and Hunt’s (1975) Ten Dimension Religious Variable instrument. In a second sample with suburban adults, Bassett et al. found that self-identified Christians scored signifi­ cantly higher on the Shepherd Scale than did self-identified non-Christians, t (28) = 6.29, p <.001.

Pecnik and Epperson (1985) found that among state university students, the Shepherd Scale correlated .71 with self-reported impor­tance of religious beliefs, .52 with denomina­tional preference (coded as Christian or non­ Christian; the positive correlation showing that Christians score higher than non-Chris­ tians) , and .43 with self-reported frequency of participation in religious activities.

The Shepherd Scale

Instructions: These questions consider different aspects of Christian experience. Note that some of the items consider how you think about or act toward Christians. These items should not be thought of as exclusive. In other words, having respect for Christians does not mean that you lack respect for non-Christians.

Please respond to all of the following items using the responses listed below.

1 = not true 2 = generally not true 3 = generally true 4 = true

Belief Component

  1. I believe that God will bring about certain circumstances that will result in the judg­ment and destruction of evil.
  2. I believe I can have the personal presence of God in my life.
  3. I believe that there are certain required duties to maintaining a strong Christian life­ style (i.e., prayer, doing good deeds, and helping others).
  4. I believe that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God through Christ.
  5. I believe that by following the teachings of Jesus Christ and incorporating them into my daily life, I receive such things as peace, confidence, and hope.
  6. I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.
  7. I believe that God will judge me for all my actions and behaviors.
  8. I believe that by submitting myself to Christ, He frees me to obey him in a way I never could before.
  9. I believe in miracles as a result of my confidence in God to perform such things.
  10. Because of God’s favor to us, through Jesus Christ, we are no longer condemned by God’s laws.
  11. Because of my personal commitment to Jesus Christ, I have eternal life.
  12. The only means by which I may know God is through my personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
  13. I believe that everyone’s life has been twisted by sin and that the only adequate remedy to this problem is Jesus Christ.

The Christian Walk Component

  1. I am concerned that my behavior and speech reflect the teachings of Christ.
  2. I respond positively (with patience, kindness, self-control) to those people who hold negative feelings toward me.
  3. I do kind things regardless of who’s watching me.
  4. Status and material possessions are not of primary importance to me.
  5. I do not accept what I hear in regard to religious beliefs without first questioning the validity of it.
  6. I strive to have good relationships with people even though their beliefs and values may be different than mine.
  7. It is important to me to conform to the Christian standards of behavior.
  8. 2l. I am most influenced by people whose beliefs and values are consistent with the teachings of Christ.
  9. I respect and obey the rules and regulations of the civil authorities which govern me.
  10. I show respect toward Christians.
  11. I share things that I own with Christians.
  12. I share the same feelings Christians do whether it be happiness or sorrow.
  13. I’m concerned about how my behavior affects Christians.
  14. I speak the truth with love to Christians.
  15. I work for Christians without expecting recognition or acknowledgments.
  16. I am concerned about unity among Christians.
  17. I enjoy spending time with Christians.
  18. My beliefs, trust, and loyalty to God can be seen by other people through my ac­ tions and behavior.
  19. I can see daily growth in the areas of knowledge of Jesus Christ, self-control, pa- tience, and virtue.
  20. Because of my love for God, I obey his commandments.
  21. I attribute my accomplishments to God’s presence in my life.
  22. I realize a need to admit my wrongs to God.
  23. I have told others that I serve Jesus Christ.
  24. I have turned from my sin and believed in Jesus Christ.
  25. I daily use and apply what I have learned by following Jesus Christ.


Bassett, R. L., Sadler, R. D., Kobischen, E. E., Skiff, D. M., Merrill, I. J., Atwater, B. J., & Liver­ more, P. W. (1981). The Shepherd Scale: Separating the sheep from the goats. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 9(4), 335-351.

Subsequent Research:

Bassett, R. L., Camplin, W., Humphrey, D., Dorr, C., Biggs, S., Distaffen, R., Doxtator, I., Fla­ herty, M., Hunsberger, P. J., Poage, R., & Thomp­ son, H. (1991). Measuring Christian maturity: A comparison of several scales. Journal of Psychol­ ogy and Theology, 19, 84-95.

Boivin, M. J., Donkin, A. J., & Darling, H. W. (1990). Religiosity and prejudice: A case study in evaluating the construct validity of Christian mea­ sures. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 9(2), 41-55.

Elzerrnan, J. H., & Boivin, M. J. (1987). The as­ sessment of Christian maturity, personality, and psychopathology among college students. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 6(3), 50-64.

Lupfer, M. B., Tolliver, D., & Jackson, M. (1996). Explaining life altering occurences: A test of the ‘God of the gaps’ hypothesis. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 35(4), 379-391.

Mangis, M. W. (1995). Religious beliefs, dog­matism, and attitudes toward women. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 14(1 ), I 3-25.


Boivin, M. J., Darling, H. W., & Darling, T. W. (l 987). Racial prejudice among Christian and non­ Christian college students. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 15(1 ), 47-56.

Glock, C. & Stark, R. (1966). Christian beliefs and anti-Semitism. New York: Harper & Row.

Godwin, T. C. (1986). Analogue study of expec­tations for Christian and traditional counseling: A partial replication and extension. Unpublished master’s thesis, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

Jones, D. R., Ripley, J. S., Kurusu, T. A., & Worthington, E. L. (1998). Influential sources in the integration of psychology and theology: A decade summary. Journal of Psychology and Chris­tianity, 17, 43- 54.

King, M. B., & Hunt, R. A. (1975). Measuring the religious variable: National replication. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 53-64.

Pecnik, J. A., & Epperson, D. L. (1985). A fac­ tor analysis and further validation of the Shepherd Scale. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 13(1 ), 42-49.