Connection of Soul Scale (COS) - an Afterlife Assessment


Woman above cemetery 2023
Geoffrey W Sutton and Bing AI

Assessment name:  Connection of Soul Scale (COS)

Scale overview: The Connection of Soul Scale (COS) is a 12-item measure of three categories of belief in the life of one’s soul after death: Secular, God-centered, Cosmic-Spiritual

Authors: Amy L. Li et al.

Response Type: Respondents rate each item on a six-point scale of agreement from 0 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree.

Scale items

The 12 COS items are associated with one of the three factors or subscales. Each subscale has four items. The secular view reflects a lack of belief in an afterlife. The God-centered view was designed to assess beliefs in Western ideas such as a soul’s existence in paradise or heaven. The Cosmic- spiritual view includes items associated with Eastern religions such as reaching enlightenment or joining with a universal spirit.

Psychometric properties

In their study, Ai et al. (2014) reported data from three studies. Two studies included students at a German University. Some of the students were from Eastern Europe. Most were Christian. The third study was conducted in the US at a northeastern university. Most of the US students were American women who identified as Christian but 31% identified as agnostic.

Reported internal consistency values were good. Factor analyses supported the three factors in both German and US samples. Early support for construct validity was evident in significant relationships with various perspectives on death as well as intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness in a German sample. 

Additional measures were included in the US study. For example, the Secular (negative) and God centered (positive) views were significantly associated with the personality trait of Agreeableness. And Openness was significantly correlated with a God-centered view (negative) and a Cosmic-spiritual view (positive). See Ai et al. (2014) for more details.


The English version is included in Ai et al. (2014). Readers may contact the authors for the German version.

Reference for the scale

Ai, A. L., Kastenm├╝ller, A., Tice, T. N., Wink, P., Dillon, M., & Frey, D. (2014). The Connection of Soul (COS) scale: An assessment tool for afterlife perspectives in different worldviews. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(4), 316–329.


Research note

It would be interesting to learn how the measure would function with a sample of people from other religions. In addition, the traditional Christian view is that after life people live on not as disembodied souls but in new bodies thus, the wording may not be appropriate for Christians holding traditional beliefs.

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Post Author


Geoffrey W. Sutton PhD is Emeritus Professor of Psychology who publishes book and articles about clinical and social psychology including the psychology of religion. Website:


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