Monday, December 21, 2020

Beliefs in a Just World Scale


 According to the just world hypothesis, “people have a need to believe that their environment is a just and orderly place where people usually get what they deserve (Lerner & Miller, 1978, p. 1030).”

Beliefs about a just world may be measured with the Global Belief in a Just World Scale (Lipkus, 1991).

The scale has 7-items, which participants rate on a 6-point basis: 1 = strong disagreement and 6 = strong disagreement about the applicability of an item to oneself.


According to PsycTESTS, contact the publisher and corresponding author.

Author contact as of 21 December 2020

Sample items

1. I feel that people get what they are entitled to have.

7. I basically feel that the world is a fair place.



Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin85(5), 1030–1051.

Lipkus, Isaac. (1991). The construction and preliminary validation of a global belief in a just world scale and the exploratory analysis of the multidimensional belief in a just world scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 12(11), 1171-1178. doi:

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Screening Questions for Spirituality in Counseling


Mental health professionals have recognized the importance of religion and spirituality to wellbeing. I have seen intake forms that ignore spirituality or ask only about a person’s religious identity or if they would like a visit from a chaplain or clergy during a hospitalization.

Clinicians can reasonably ask how to explore the importance of spirituality to treatment without being overly intrusive or disrespectful when a patient does not volunteer relevant information. David Hodge (2013) offers four screening questions based on his review of the literature (p. 98).

I offer a paraphrase of Hodge’s suggestions and suggest consulting his chapter, which I found in my university library (see reference below). Each question is tied to a one-word therapeutic purpose.

1. Importance

How important is spiritual or religious faith to you?

2. Affiliation

Do you attend religious services? Do you participate in any groups that would be considered religious or spiritual?

3. Resources

Are there any spiritual or religious beliefs or practices that you find helpful?

4. Relationship to psychotherapy goals

Have any of the concerns you mentioned affected you spirituality or had an influence on your faith?

The questions may be asked at any point in the psychotherapy process. Each question offers the potential for a more in-depth exploration of the patient’s faith as relevant to their psychotherapy goals.

I have posted a number of questionnaires and scales in this blog that may be helpful to further explore one or more dimensions of religious faith or spirituality. In clinical practice, it may not be important to administer an entire scale or questionnaire to obtain relevant information. Instead, clinicians might find a few items that help patient’s connect their faith to their therapeutic goals.

Read more about assessment in counseling and psychotherapy in Applied Statistics: Concepts for Counselors.


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Hodge, D.R. (2013). Assessing spirituality and religion in the context of counseling and psychotherapy. In K. I. Pargament (Ed.) APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality: Vol. 2. An Applied Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, pp. 93-123. Washington, DC: APA.

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Metaphors Can Interfere with Understanding Survey Items and Results

Photo for illustration purposes only

“If Jesus is God, how could he create the world if he wasn’t born yet.”

                     —Girl, age 7

It will be a while until this 7-year-old passes through the stage of concrete operations and begins to pull apart various mental constructs in a serious fashion. Along the way she’ll pick up many metaphors, including those that unravel men’s thinking about God hundreds of years ago. And all sorts of other metaphors.

Americans are known for being religious and in particular, for being Christian; however, as is commonly said, the devil is in the details.

In this post, I look at religious survey items to make a point about being careful when writing and interpreting survey items containing concepts with a range of meaning.


God- Who is God?

Gallup keeps tabs on Americans’ views on God. In an interesting article, Hrynowski (2019) reveals a different response rate for beliefs in God depending on how the question is asked. Specifically, they asked the question about belief in God three ways.

1. The simple question, “Do you believe in God?” gets the highest response—86 to 89% in recent years.

2. When given a few options the percentage of belief drops to 79% in recent polling.

3. When asked if they are convinced that God exists and given other options, the percentage of believers in God falls to 64%

Jesus—Who is Jesus?

Centuries after Jesus life on earth ended, religious leaders argued about his nature and formulated statements essentially saying Jesus is both God and man. For Christians, the widely accepted doctrine of the trinity declares God to be “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

In 2020, the State of Theology survey asked Americans about Jesus by presenting a statement: “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” Survey participants could select five options representing levels of agreement. Only 28% strongly agreed. Another 23% chose the “agree” option. So if you combine the two levels of agreement, you get 52% and if you add the opposite two choices of strongly disagree (27%) and somewhat disagree (10%) you obtain a level of disagreement of 36%.

What about evangelicals? Despite the difficulty in defining who is and who isn’t an evangelical, the researchers analysed the results to see how those participants who identified as evangelical answered the question. It turns out, 30% agreed.

The Bible—What is Truth?

When it comes to Christians’ ideas about God and Jesus, it’s reasonable to turn to the source material. Thus, the researchers asked participants their beliefs about the Bible. As with all surveys, how the question is asked can make a difference. Here’s the Statement of Theology survey statement:

“The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.”

As with other items, participants selected from the range of strongly disagree to strongly agree. The strongly agree level for the US population is 20%.

The statement suggests a dichotomy that ignores an understanding of truth revealed in metaphors. Can you rewrite the statement?


Writers like Marcus Borg (1995) attempt to help Christians deal with various conundrums by pointing out the biblical metaphors about Jesus. So, some writers refer to Jesus as the Son of God. But Jesus is also presented as a lamb and the word.

There are many words in the Bible about God. A dominant presentation is that God is a male figure. Sometimes God is presented as a husband (e.g., Isaiah 54:5)—even a jealous one—and sometimes God is presented as a Father (e.g., Matthew 6: 9-13). But the Bible also refers to God as a Spirit (John 4:24). And in Christian teaching, people lose their distinctiveness as male or female (Galatians 3:28).

So, the point is, are these descriptions of God just reflections of men using metaphors that made sense to people living in male dominated cultures thousands of years ago or must we view God as a man to have a correct understanding? Surely, if Christians do not think metaphorically, the idea that God is like a man is rather limiting.

Of course, there are many religions besides Christianity in the world and those religious people understand God or gods in ways that are different from the diverse views of Christians about the God of the Bible.

Survey Limitations

1. Survey results are interesting but I hope these examples show that people appear to have different perspectives on the central person in their faith.

2. When researchers expand the wording of survey items, the investigators may obtain  more nuanced responses.

3. In some cases, giving participants the opportunity to add a text response to a survey item can help clarify nuances of meaning.

4. In some cases, metaphors make a difference in interpreting the results of a survey. The familiarity of the survey writer and participant with relevant metaphors can enhance or obscure the meaning of the results.

5. When a survey does not consistently tap the same domain of knowledge, reliability is negatively affected to an unknown degree.

6. I once examined the relationship between the intelligence of graduate students to the results obtained when they administered and scored intelligence tests. I never published those data. But I am left with a hypothesis related to this topic— the intelligence of survey writers can affect not only the wording of the items but the interpretation of the results as well. And of course, there is the unknown factor of the intelligence of the people responding to a survey.

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Final Note

If a 7-year-old girl can ask a thoughtful question about biblical literalism, imagine the difficulty in ascertaining what thoughtful adults really think about a survey topic.


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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Dispositional Contempt Scale


The Dispositional Contempt Scale (DCS) developed by Schriber et al. (2017) included 10-items measuring contempt on a 5-point rating scale.


The authors provided the following instructions on the downloaded form.

Below are a series of statements that may or may not relate to you. Please read each statement carefully, considering each one by one, and indicate the extent to which each describes you by using the response options. There are no right or wrong answers. Please answer honestly, as we are interested in how you actually think, feel, and behave.


1. I tend to disregard people who fall short of my standards.

2. I often lose respect for others.

3. Feeling disdain for others comes naturally to me.

4. I tend to accept people regardless of their flaws.

5. I would never try to make someone feel worthless.

6. I often feel like others are wasting my time.

7. I hardly ever think others are inferior to me.

8. All in all, I am repelled by others' faults.

9. Others tend to give me reasons to look down on them.

10. I often feel contempt for others.

Read more at The Psychology of Contempt


The authors state that the scale scores is the total score for the ten items. Items 4,5, and 7 are reverse scored.


The higher the score, the higher the level of contempt as a disposition or personality trait.


After developing the scale, their third sample revealed an average item mean of 2.48, SD  of .88 and alpha of .89. The DSC was significantly correlated with shame (Other as Shamer Scale, Goss et al., 1994) r = .85. Additional studies revealed DCS means in the range of 2.34 to 2.41 with SDs ranged from .70 to .92. The alpha values ranged from .88 to .90.

The authors compared the DCS to other measures and found significant relationships with aggression, hubristic price and dispositional envy. As you might expect, high DCS scores were significantly inversely related with the Big % trait of agreeableness. See Shriber et al. (2017) for details.




I downloaded the scale from Tilburg University.

 Learn more about assessment in Applied Statistics for Counselors

Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index


Goss, K., Gilbert, P., & Allan, S. (1994). An exploration of shame measures–

1: The Other as Shamer scale. Personality and Individual Differences,

17, 713–717.


Schriber, R. A., Chung, J. M., Sorensen, K. S., & Robins, R. W. (2017). Dispositional

contempt: A first look at the contemptuous person. Journal of Personality and Social

Psychology, 113, 280-309.

Add scales like the DSC to survey projects- See 

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

How to Measure Closeness in Relationships- Line Scale of Closeness


Line Scale of Closeness (LSC)

The Line Scale of Closeness (LSC) is a simple measure that can be used in clinical or research settings. In a clinical setting, psychotherapists and clients can explore any barriers to closeness and discuss how the level of closeness has changed over time. The LSC may also be used to identify progress toward counseling goals.

To compare changes over time or differences between groups, use a standardized line length such as 7-inches or 18-cm. 

On each end of the line, identify the client or participant and on the opposite end of the line, identify the person who is the subject of feeling close to or distant from. Ask the client or participant to place an X on the line to indicate how close they feel toward the other person.








Place a ruler on the scale and record the score in centimeters to two decimal points e.g., 12.25 cm.

I have used this scale informally and in lab research but I have not published any results.

I have not used the scale in an online format but I think it would be easy with survey software that allows for placing a response along a continuum.


I have worked in a variety of settings. The scale is easy to use with people of different languages or limited vocabulary.



For clients who express feeling distant from God, the Line Scale of Closeness (LSC) is an easy way for them to identify their perception of closeness. 

Although I have not used the word attachment, I hypothesize that the score on the LSC would be significantly correlated with avoidant and anxious attachment measured on Likert-scales.

I have used the scale to measure closeness to God in Christian samples. In experimental procedures, three groups receive similar instructions varied by the person of the Trinity. Most students felt closer to Jesus but the response to God the Father or the Holy Spirit were not consistent. These data suggest that attachment to God inventories may be less accurate than identifying Jesus as the focus of attachment for evangelical Christians. These are only hypotheses because the scale has not been used with a large sample and subject to peer review.


You have permission to use this scale for noncommercial use only (e.g., teaching and research). Kindly cite this post in your reports and presentations.

 Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index

How to cite this post (APA Style)

Sutton, G.W. (2020, December 9). How to Measure Closeness in Relationships: Line Scale of Closeness (LSC)Assessment, Statistics, & Research 

Please consider adding my books as texts or handbooks in clinical and research settings. They are in use by professors teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in Psychology, Counselling, Education, and Seminary settings. 

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 Related Measures

Adult Attachment Scale

Attachment to God Inventory




Thursday, December 3, 2020

Depression Treatment Survey Items


Pentecostal worship from Bing free to use

Trice and Bjorck (2006b) conducted a survey of Pentecostals to determine their views on the causes and cures of depression. Their set of 25 treatment (i.e., cure) items is available for researchers.

There are 25 “cure” or treatment items in their survey. These items are divided into categories, which are reported below along with alpha values found in their article (Trice & Bjork, 2006b).

Spiritual discipline (.60)

Faith practices (.63)

Rest (.76)

Support (.61)

Health (.57)

Psychology/psychiatry (.72)

Neurology (.62)


Prior to completing the survey, participants are given the following definition of depression:

"Depression is a disorder of mood (e.g., feelings, emotions) characterized by sadness and dejection, decreased motivation and interest in life, negative thoughts, and such physical symptoms as sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Moreover, these characteristics last at least 2 weeks."


For the 25 treatment items, participants rate each regarding its effectiveness as a treatment for depression using the same 7-point scale.

Sample items

prayer with laying on of hands

pastoral counseling


"Test content may be reproduced and used for non-commercial research and educational purposes without seeking written permission. Distribution must be controlled, meaning only to the participants engaged in the research or enrolled in the educational activity. Any other type of reproduction or distribution of test content is not authorized without written permission from the author and publisher. Always include a credit line that contains the source citation and copyright owner when writing about or using any test." (Trice & Bjorck, 2006a)


As a part of their conclusion, the authors reported:

"The endorsement of faith practices (including Scripture memorization, confessing sin, fasting, prayer with laying on of hands, deliverance/exorcism, individual prayer, and the avoidance of Yoga meditation1) as the most effective treatments for depression is consistent with Pentecostal doctrines." (p.287)

This study cited in Sutton's review of counseling and psychotherapy techniques with Pentecostal and charismatic Christians (2021).

See Trice & Bjorck (2006b) for details on the study and items related to causes of depression. 

Resource Link:  A – Z Test Index


Sutton, G. W. (2021). Counseling and psychotherapy with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians: Culture & Research | Assessment & Practice. Springfield, MO: Sunflower.  ISBN-13 : 979-8681036524 AMAZON

Trice, P. D., & Bjorck, J. P. (2006a). Depression Cause and Cure Survey. PsycTESTS.

Trice, P. D., & Bjorck, J. P. (2006b). Pentecostal perspectives on causes and cures of depression. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(3), 283-294. doi:

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Adult Decision Making Competence ADMC

  Measure name: Adult Decision-Making Competence ADMC Overview: The Adult Decision-Making Competence measure consists of a set of seven d...