The Religious Orientation Scale

Allport believed that a deep religious commitment was a mark of a mature individual, but he also believed that not all churchgoers have a mature religious orientation. Some, in fact, are highly prejudiced. Allport (1966) offered a possible explanation for tins frequently reported observation. He suggested that church and prejudice offer the same safety, security, and status, at least for some people. These people can feel both comfortable and self-righteous with their prejudicial attitudes and then church attendance.

To understand the relationship between church attendance and prejudice, All-port and J. Michael Ross (1967) developed the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS), which is applicable only for churchgoers. The ROS consists of 20 items—11 Extrinsic and 9 Intrinsic. Examples of Extrinsic items are "The primary purpose of prayer is to gam relief and protection"; "What religion offers me most is comfort when sorrow and misfortune strike"; and "One reason for my bemg a church member is that such membership helps to establish a person hi the community." Examples of Intrinsic items include "My religious beliefs are what really he behind my whole approach to life" and "I try hard to carry my religion over into all my other dealings in life" (p. 436). Allport and Ross assumed that people with an extrinsic orientation have a utilitarian view of religion; that is, they see it as a means to an end. Theirs is a self-serving religion of comfort and social convention. Then beliefs are lightly held and easily reshaped when convenient. In contrast, a second group of people have an intrinsic orientation. These people live then religion and find their master motive in their religious faith. Rather than using religion for some end they bring other needs hito harmony with their religious values. They have an internalized creed and follow it fully.

Although Allport originally thought that religious orientation would be a bipolar trait, he soon realized that not everyone could easily be fit hito either the Extrinsic or the Intrinsic pole. Some people endorsed both the Extrhisic and the Intrinsic statements. These people formed a third group called indiscriminately proreligious, Others tended to disagree with both the Extrinsic and the Intrinsic items, and these people made up a fourth group called indiscriminately antireligious or nonreligious.

Over the years, researchers have made a number of changes in the items and in scorhig procedures, but the underlying structure has remained hitact (Hood Spilka, Hunsberger, & Gorsuch, 1996; Maltby, 1999). An item-analysis (Trimble, 1997) looked at a number of studies on the ROS with the intent of investigating its psychometric qualities. This analysis showed that the Extrinsic scale had only moderate reliability, leading to the suggestion that more items should be added to this scale.

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