WORD-SPIRIT ORIENTATION SCALE

Variable:

The Word-Spirit Orientation Scale (WSOS) is intended to measure the degree to which a Christian individual tends to emphasize the objective-rational ("Word" ori­entation) or subjective-experiential aspects ("Spirit orientation") of his or her faith tra­dition.

Description:

Based on a conceptual distinc­tion introduced by Stewart (1974), with conceptual ties to the field independent/de­ pendent cognitive style distinctions of Witkin and colleagues (e.g., Witkin, Dyk, Faterson, Goodenough, & Karp, 1962), the WSOS is comprised of 16 forced-choice items (including 3 fillers). Scoring consists of adding up a respondent's total number of Word-oriented choices. It assumes an under­ lying bipolar continuum from low (Spirit­ oriented) to high (Word-oriented; possible score range is 0-13).

Practical Considerations:

The WSOS is brief, can be administered in paper­ and-pencil format, and is easy to score. Written instructions to the respondent are adequate for scale completion, although no rationale for scale completion is provided therein. The scale's content and wording (e.g., "personal testimonies," "witnessing") assumes familiarity and agreement with a number of beliefs and practices distinct to evangelical Protestant Christianity; admin­istration and interpretation of the scale among other populations is thus probably ill-advised.

Norms/Standardization:

The original sam­ ple (Hsieh, 1981) consisted of 82 psychol­ogy undergraduate students attending a theologically conservative Christian college in the midwestern United States. Classifica­tion of respondents was based on a tertiary split, with the top third being designated as "Word-oriented" and the bottom third as "Spirit-oriented." Men were over­ represented in the Word-oriented group; women were overrepresented in the Spirit-oriented group. Actual cutoff scores, as well as the total sample mean, were not reported.

Hsieh (1987), using a sample of 127 Christian college students, utilized cutoff scores of 6 and above for Word orientation and 5 and below for Spirit orientation, ap­proximating a median split. The sample mean was 5.09 (SD= 2.04); sex differences were not reported.

Reliability:

Using a sample of 24 evangeli­cal Christian college undergraduates, Hsieh (1981) reported a two-week test-retest relia­bility of .88. No internal consistency or fac­ tor structure information was reported, how­ ever.

Validity:

Information concerning the WSOS's validity is fragmentary. Hsieh (1981) alluded to a pool from which scale items were chosen, but item selection was based on face validity alone. To the extent that the WSOS is assumed to be linked con­ceptually to cognitive style, then Hsieh's (1981) finding that Word-oriented persons are more field-independent than Spirit-ori­ented persons offers some evidence for the WSOS's construct validity. Hsieh (1987) re­ferred to two unpublished manuscripts link­ ing Word-Spirit orientation to preferences for both religious denomination and preach­ing style, which may contribute to the scale's predictive validity. At least two problematic issues remain, however. First, conceptual and psychometric justification for the assumed bipolarity of Word-Spirit orientation is needed. It is unclear, for ex­ ample, whether the middle-scoring WSOS respondents excluded from Hsieh's (1981) primary investigation should best be conceptualized as neither Spirit- nor Word-ori­ented, or as a mixture of both orientations. Second, discriminant validity of the WSOS needs to be established. It is unclear, for ex­ ample, whether the apparent link between Word-Spirit orientation and gender is indicative of construct validity or is a con­ found.

Word-Spirit Orientation Scale

Instructions: There are two statements in each of the following questions. Please choose the one that you believe describes you accurately or is more true. There are no right or wrong answers. However, it is important that each statement you choose applies to you more than the other. Try to answer each item independently when making your choice; do not be influ­enced by your previous choices.

  1. a. I feel regular church attendance is an integral part of the Christian faith.b. I feel that one can maintain Christian growth without regular church attendance.
  2. a. When reading the Bible for the purpose of understanding and interpretation, I tend to rely more often upon my own resources to shed light upon the subject.*b. When reading the Bible for the purpose of understanding and interpretation, I tend to seek help from other people's writings to shed light upon the subject.
  3. *a. When I am with a group of new people, I am more often concerned with just being myself.b. When I am with a group of new people, I am more often concerned with making a good impression.
  4. a. When witnessing to others, I tend to present the lovingkindness of Christ.*b. When witnessing to others, I tend to present claims of Christ's life, death, and resurrection.
  5. *a. I feel that a church should be more concerned with a vision for worldwide evange­lization.b. I feel that a church should be more concerned with the fellowship and growth of its own members.
  6. a. I feel the biblical concept of the nature of man places him in a position of being ba­sically good.    b. I feel the biblical concept of the nature of man places him in a position of being ba­sically evil.
  7. *a. I feel the scriptural teachings and doctrines are better defenses of Christian faith.      b. I feel personal testimonies and experiences are better defenses of Christian faith.
  8. a. I feel the main emphasis of Sunday School should be to teach children application of faith, such as acceptance of others and themselves.         *b. I feel the main emphasis of Sunday School should be to give children solid biblical teaching, such as the doctrine of salvation.
  9. a. When making life decisions, I tend to rely mostly upon what I feel to be God's will.          *b. b. When making life decisions, I tend to rely mostly upon my own intellectual capaci­ties.
  10. a. If I were to hold some leadership position in my church, I would feel more com­fortable allowing members to help me in the decisions and delegating responsibili­ties to those members.*b. If I were to hold some leadership position in my church, I would feel more com­fortable making decisions and being responsible for following them through myself.
  11. *a. When getting together with a few of my close friends for reasons of Christian growth, I prefer to spend time in Bible study, group discussion, and interpretation of the passages read.b. When getting together with a few of my close friends for reasons of Christian growth, I prefer to spend time in sharing personal experiences we have had with God and praying together.
  12. *a. In my own personal Bible study times, I spend more time concentrating on finding the correct interpretation of Bible passages, even going to commentaries once in a while for further insight.b. In my own personal Bible study times, I spend more of my time reading for inspi­ration and strength to meet present problems.
  13. a. I feel that it is an important part of my faith to give 10 percent or more of my in­ come to the local church.b. I feel that my spiritual growth will not suffer by giving less than IO percent of my income to the local church.
  14. a. I feel that God wants a church to listen for a call to outreach on a day-to-day basis.*b. I feel that God wants a church to have a well-structured, long-range, ongoing pro­ gram of outreach.
  15. *a. Most of my reading materials are theological and doctrinal in nature.b. Most of my reading materials are devotional and inspirational in nature.
  16. a. I see my ministry as a Christian as dealing with those who are lonely, suffering, and overcome by temptations (even as a layperson).*b. I see my ministry as a Christian in the area of teaching, pastoring, and administra­tion (even as a layperson).

Indicates "Word-oriented" statements. Items I, 6, and 13 are fillers.

Location:

Hsieh, T. T. Y. (1981). Cognitive styles and word versus spirit orientations among Christians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 9, 175-182.

Recent Research:

Hsieh, T. T. Y. (1987). Heavenly-minded and earthly good: A study of social interest, ethi­ cal style, and word-spirit orientation among Chris­ tians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 15, 141-147.

References

Hsieh, T. T. Y. (1981). Cognitive styles and word versus spirit orientations among Christians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 9, 175-182.

Hsieh, T. T. Y. (1987). Heavenly-minded and earthly good: A study of social interest, ethical style, and word-spirit orientation among Christians. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 15, 141-147. Stewart, V. M. (1974). Cognitive style, North American values, and the body of Christ. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 2, 77-88.

Witkin, H. A., Dyk, R. B., Paterson, H. F., Goodenough, D. R., & Karp, S. A. (1962). Psycho­ logical differentiation. New York: Wiley.