Monday, August 28, 2017

Measuring Christian Fundamentalism

Photo by Geoff W. Sutton, 2017

Researchers define fundamentalism in different ways. One recent model focuses on the way religious people view their sacred text. I have written about the Intratextual Fundamentalism model in a previous post (October 2013). In this post, I provide some data related to the 5-item version of the scale, which I have found useful in research projects.

The revised version of the scale (IFS) has five items--each measuring a dimension of intratextuality (Williamson, Hood, Ahmad, Sadiq, & Hill, 2010). Here are the five dimensions (from my previous blog):

  1. Divine: The sacred text is a revelation from God (or of divine origin) to humans. Regardless of the involvement of people in the writing of the text, God (or a deity) is the author.
  2. Inerrant: The sacred text does not contain errors, inconsistencies, or contradictions. The text is objectively true.
  3. Privileged: The sacred text of the fundamentalist group is not just another sacred writing. It is the truth. Fundamentalists may show respect to people from other religions and their sacred writings but they do not consider other texts to be on the same level as their own text.
  4. Authoritative:  The sacred text is the final authority. If a conflict in belief arises, the sacred text wins.
  5. Unchanging: The sacred text is unchangeable and true for eternity. The truths are absolutes. The truths can be depended on to understand the world and as a guide for life.

Reliability and Validity Data

In a recent study (Sutton, Kelly, Griffin, Worthington & Dinwiddie, 2016), coefficient alpha = .92). It was highly correlated with a measure of religious practices (r = .51).

Selected items (alpha = .83), but not the full five, were also correlated with Christian Beliefs Index (.56), Christian Social Values (.64), Christian Service Scale (.23), and Christian Practices (.36) in Sutton, Arnzen, and Kelly (2016).

More recently, Heather Kelly and others (2017) used the IFS in two studies of Christians' views of sin. In study one, alpha = .85. Christian Beliefs (.68) and Practices (.30) were significantly correlated with the IFS. Big Five traits also supported the validity: Conscientiousness (.23) and Openness (-.19).

The results for study two were also supportive (alpha = .93; correlations with IFS):  Beliefs .64; Practices .44; Openness -.19; Conscientiousness was not significant at -.10.

Although I have only used the IFS in Christian samples, it has been used with people of other religions.


Kelly, H. & Sutton, G.W. (2017, March 31). Factors influencing Christians' moral appraisals of nontraditional sexuality. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, International Conference, Chicago, IL.

Sutton, G. W., Arnzen, C., & Kelly, H. (2016). Christian counseling and psychotherapy: Components of clinician spirituality that predict type of Christian intervention. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 35, 204-214.

Sutton, G. W., Kelly, H., Worthington, E., Griffin, B. (2016, March 10). Healing and Counseling outcomes: What do client factors contribute? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, International Conference, Pasadena, CA.

Williamson, W. P., Hood, R. W. Jr., Ahmad, A., Sadiq, M., Hill, P. C. (2010). The Intratextual Fundamentalism Scale: Cross-cultural application, validity evidence, and relationship with religious orientation and the big 5 factor markers. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 13, 721-747. doi:10.1080/13674670802643047

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