The What I Believe  Scale (WIB) was developed to differentiate three reli­gious/philosophical belief systems (i.e., Judeo-Christian, Spiritism/Occult, and Atheism/ Secular Humanism) and to mea­ sure the extent to which those belief sys­tems are associated with personality factors (e.g., self-esteem) that influence academic performance.


The scale consists of 50 state­ments to which the respondent answers true or false. Because the questionnaire attempts, in part, to differentiate among three ideolo­gies, some of the 50 statements are more crucial to a particular ideological category than others (the core or foundational state­ments). Other statements, called satellite re­sponses, are less crucial (Gill & Thornton, 1988). However, the scale’s authors state that it is a subject’s combination of core and satellite responses that determine category placement. The scale is scored in such a way that the total score reflects the strength of an individual’s Judeo-Christian beliefs. In addition to the Judeo-Christian Total score, the WIB provides values for an Atheism Total and a Spiritism/Occult Total.

Practical Considerations:

The WIB scale is designed to be administered in groups but can be administered individually and should take IO to 15 minutes. Scoring is accom­plished by determining the number of “cor­rect” responses (correct defined according to a particular ideological category) and converting that number into a percentage of correct responses for a representative category. For example, in the Judeo-Christian category, all 50 items of the questionnaire are used in calculating a person’s score. The correct responses are response B for questions 1-8,10,12-14,16-17,20-27,29- 34, 3 3. and 48-50; response A for all other questions. A person responding cor­ rectly on 33 items would receive a score of 66 on the Judeo-Christian category (2 x number correct). For the Atheism and Spiritism/Occult categories, half of the questions are scored. For the Atheism cate­ gory, correct responses are: response A for questions 2, 4, 5, 8, 13, 2 I, 23, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 42, and 48; response B for questions 7, 10, 11, 18, 28, 32, 34, 45, 46, 47, and 50.

For the Spiritism/Occult category, correct responses are: response A for questions I, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 41, 43, 45, 49, and 50; re­sponse B for questions 26 and 44. A person answering correctly on 17 of the items in each of these categories would receive a score of 68 (4 x number correct).


Subjects included 179 high school students selected on the basis of classroom teacher cooperation and a desire on the part of the experimenters to maintain a homogeneous sample. Two com­ parison groups were created: (a) 92 senior honor students from two public schools and 87 seniors from a Catholic school. The mean age of the public school students was 17.6 and for the parochial school students was 17.0 years. Both genders were repre­sented in the sample. No formal attempt was made by the authors to assess economic similarities between the two groups.


Using 17 subjects over a two­ week period, test-retest reliability was used and indicated a reliability coefficient of .79; no other attempt to measure reliability was reported.


Validity of the instrument was ob­tained through the responses of subjects identified as strongly representing a particu­lar category. The subjects in each instance made near perfect scores in their belief cate­ gory and scored low on the other belief cat­egories; the authors interpreted this result as supporting the validity of the scale. Inter­ correlations among the various scales indi­cated an inverse relationship between the Judeo-Christian score and the Atheism/Sec­ular Humanism score as would be expected if the measurement has validity.

What I Believe (WIB) Scale

Directions: This is to be an anonymous survey of some of your basic beliefs. Read each state­ment carefully and indicate in the space provided whether you feel the statement is true (A) or false (B). Please do not discuss the statements with others until everyone has completed the survey. Please respond to all 50 items.

True False

(A) (B)

  1.  A religious faith passionately believed in can act as a catalyst releasing psychic forces.
  2. Human nature is really neither good nor bad
  3. Such things as black magic and voodoo interest me
  4. I tend to believe only in what I can see or can be explained.
  5. I see no harm in wearing good luck charms
  6. I believe any unusual powers exhibited by people can be explained scientifically as resulting from an external energy force, such as the sun. In such cases, people are merely acting as channels or conductors.
  7. Personally, I’m drawn to the psychic approach when details are so specific as to rule out coincidence.
  8. Discussing spiritual occurrences and supernatural phenomena is foolish and absurd.
  9. Generally speaking, people can not be trusted Reality exists only in the mind.
  10. The supernatural power which exists externally
  11. from us is a being or beings with motivation and intent.
  12. Prayer is a psychic phenomena.
  13. Although some things are still not known or understood, some day all will be known by increasing our own human intelligence.
  14. I find the occult interesting.
  15. Life on this planet has deteriorated and will most probably become worse.
  16. The mind has extrasensory powers.
  17. Supernatural explanations lie totally within the human potential or ability.
  18. There are two supernatural spiritual
    1. beings of major significance in the universe:
    2. a loving and just creator, and an evil force or spirit.
  19. Man’s basic or fundamental nature is selfish.
  20. Prayer is merely a material power, like electricity, available to all persons no matter what they believe.
  21. Life on earth is relatively quite good and will probably get much better.
  22. I believe the only supernatural force in the universe is that of a loving God.
  23. There is a natural order to everything and all phenomena can be explained naturally.
  24. Every human being is a member of the cosmos and “God” is the cosmic mind.
  25. People are basically good.
  26. Voodoo deaths are most probably due to mind control.
  27. I see nothing harmful in transcendental meditation or the practice of Yoga.
  28. Some events can only be explained supernaturally and are thus unexplainable through logic or science.
  29. All so called “miracles” are either myths or can be explained scientifically.
  30. The notion of an everlasting hell is a repugnant religious doctrine and completely unacceptable.
  31. We live in an objective world in which what we see is generally the way things really are.
  32. There are many gods and spirits of which some are good and some are evil.

True False

ِ(A) (B)

  1. People are generally honest and in most cases should be trusted.
  2. In some instances, it is possible to communicate with people after death.
  3. There is a universal conspiracy to control and enslave people.
  4. The existing supernatural force is only energy or force, not a thinking or feeling being with a personality.
  5. Miracles, such as instant healing and the raising of the dead, may have actually occurred at some point in history, but are certainly not happening today.
  6. Strange occurrences, such as hauntings and ghosts, may be attributed to the restless spirits of people who have died.
  7. The only supernatural force of any consequence in the universe is evil.
  8. Following an individual’s death, their spirit may inhabit the body of another living person.
  9. I see no harm in periodically reading one’s horoscope.
  10. Any mysterious or unexplained powers exhibited by people today will in time be explained scientifically in terms of human potential or talent.
  11. Supernatural forces or spirits can be controlled and used to one’s own advantage if one is clever.
  12. Explanations for the supernatural must lie outside of human potential or ability.
  13. There is both a spiritual as well as a natural side to reality.
  14. The supernatural spirit or force is a being with a personality and a close intimate or personal relationship is possible.
  15. It is foolish to believe there is no God.
  16. Humility and meekness, for the most part, are human characteristics of individual weakness.
  17. I enjoy tales of the supernatural, horror and the macabre.
  18. Halloween is a very important time of the year.

True (A)False (B)


Gill, N.T., & Thornton, L.H. (1989, October/November). Religious orientation and self­ esteem among high school students. The High School Journal, 73(1), 47-60.

Recent Research:

Thornton, L.H., & Gill, N.T. (1989, November). Consistency of religious beliefs and self-esteem among high school students. Paper presented at the meeting of the Florida Educational Research Asso­ciation, Tallahassee, FL.

Thornton, L. H., & Gill, N. T. (1990, Novem­ber). Student interest and religious beliefs. Paper presented at the meeting of the Florida Educational Research Association.


Gill, N.T., & Thornton, L.H. (1988, November). Religious orientation and self-esteem among col­lege students. Paper presented at the meeting of the Florida Educational Research Association, Sara­sota, FL.