The Measurement of Attitude

Chapter 2: Construction of an Attitude Scale

L. L. Thurstone and E. J. Chave

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Several groups of people and many individuals were asked to write out their opinions about the church, and current literature was searched for suitable brief statements that might serve the purposes of the scale. By editing such material a list of 130 statements was prepared, expressive of attitudes covering as far as possible all gradations from one end of the scale to the other.

It was sometimes necessary to give special attention to the neutral statements. If a random compilation of statements of opinion should fail to produce neutral statements, there is some danger that the scale will break in two parts. The whole range of attitudes must be fairly well covered, as far as one can tell by preliminary inspection, in order to insure that there will be over-lapping in the rank orders of different readers throughout the scale.

In making the initial list of statements several practical criteria were applied in the first editing work. Some of the important criteria are as follows: (I) The statements should be as brief as possible so as not to fatigue the subjects who are asked to read the whole list. (2) The statements should be such that they can be indorsed or rejected in accordance with their agreement or disagreement with the attitude of the reader. Some statements in a random sample will be so phrased that the reader can express no definite indorsement or rejection of them. (3) Every statement should be such that acceptance or rejection of the statement does indicate something regarding the reader's attitude about the issue in question. If, for example, the statement is made that war is an incentive to inventive genius, the acceptance or rejection of it

( 23) really does not say anything regarding the reader's pacifistic or militaristic tendencies. He may regard the statement as an unquestioned fact and simply indorse it as a fact, in which case his answer has not revealed anything concerning his own attitude on the issue in question. However, only the conspicuous examples of this effect should be eliminated by inspection, because an objective criterion is available for detecting such statements so that their elimination from the scale will be automatic. Personal judgment should be minimized as far as possible in this type of work. (4) Double-barreled statements should be avoided except possibly as examples of neutrality when better neutral statements do not seem to be readily available. Double-barreled statements tend to have a high ambiguity. (5) One must insure that at least a fair majority of the statements really belong on the attitude variable that is to be measured. If a small number of irrelevant statements should be either intentionally or unintentionally left in the series, they will be automatically eliminated by an objective criterion, but the criterion will not be successful unless the majority of the statements are clearly a part of the stipulated variable.

The following is a list of the 130 statements about the church with which we began our experiments. The numbering is quite arbitrary and serves only for the purpose of identifying the statements in the various tables and diagrams.


1. I have seen no value in the church.

2. I believe the modern church has plenty of satisfying interests for young people.

3. I do not hear discussions in the church that are scientific or practical and so I do not care to go.

4. I believe that membership in a good church increases one's self-respect and usefulness.

5. I believe a few churches are trying to keep up to date in thinking and methods of work, but most are far behind the times.

6. I regard the church as an ethical society promoting the best way of living for both an individual and for society.

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7. The paternal and benevolent attitude of the church is quite distasteful to me.

8. I believe the church has a good influence on the lower and uneducated classes but has no value for the upper, educated classes.

9. I don't believe church-going will do anyone any harm.

10. I have no interest in the church for my parents had no religion and I have seen no value in it.

11. I believe in the church and its teachings because I have been accustomed to them since I was a child.

12. I feel the churches are too narrow-minded and clannish.

13. I believe in religion but I seldom go to church.

14. I think the church allows denominational differences to appear larger than true religion.

15. I think the church is a good thing. I don't go much myself but I like my children to go.

16. I get no satisfaction from going to church.

17. In the church I find my best companions and express my best self.

18. I am an atheist and have no use for the church.

19. I feel church attendance is a fair index of the nation's morality.

20. I go to church because I enjoy music. I am in the choir and get musical training and chorus-singing.

21. I do not understand the dogmas or creeds of the church but I find that the church helps me to be more honest and creditable.

22. I believe in personal religion but organized religion as represented in the church has no meaning for me.

23. I am interested in a church that is beautiful and that emphasizes the aesthetic side of life.

24. The churches may be doing good and useful work but they do not interest me.

25. I believe the churches are doing far more harm than good.

26. I regard the church today as primarily an educational institution.

27. I believe in sincerity and goodness without any church ceremonies.

28. I believe in what the church teaches but with mental reservations.

29. My only interest in the church is in the opportunities it gives for a good time.

30. I believe the church ought to have a value but I regret that I have to quit it as it is.

31. I believe the church promotes a fine brotherly relationship between people and nations.

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32. I believe the church is bound hand and foot by money interests and can-not practice the religion of Jesus.

33. I feel the church is petty, always quarreling over matters that have no interest or importance.

34. Sometimes I feel that the church and religion are necessary and some-times I doubt it.

35. I go to church because my girl does.

36. I believe the churches are too much divided by factions and denominations to be a strong force for righteousness.

37. I am only interested in the church for the sake of the social life I find there.

38. I think too much money is being spent on the church for the benefit that is being derived.

39. I believe the church is absolutely needed to overcome the tendency to individualism and selfishness. It practices the golden rule fairly well.

40. I think the teaching of the church is altogether top superficial to have much social significance.

41. I think the country would be better off if the churches were closed and ministers set to some useful work.

42. I believe the church provides most of the leaders for every movement for social welfare.

43. I believe the church represents outgrown primitive beliefs that are based largely on fears.

44. I believe the church is the greatest institution in our country for developing patriotism.

45. Some churches are all right, but others are "all bunk."

46. I do not think the church is essential to Christianity.

47. I like our church for it gives young people a chance to have some fun and yet it is religious.

48. The church represents shallowness, hypocrisy, and prejudice.

49. I do not think one has to belong to the church to be religious.

50. I feel the church services give me inspiration and help me to live up to my best during the following week.

51. I feel I can worship God better out of doors than in the church and I get more inspiration there.

52. I believe interest in the church is more emotional than rational.

53. I feel that the church is rapidly coming to apply scientific methods to its thinking and its promotion of religion.

54. When I go to church I enjoy a fine ritual service with good music.

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55. I believe that if young people are not interested in the church it is the fault of either their parents or the church leaders.

56. I believe the church is losing ground as education advances.

57. The church has not helped me to any satisfactory ideas of God or the future. I have had to work out my own ideas.

58. I think one church is about as good as another but some camouflage better than others.

59. I go to church occasionally but have no specific attitude toward it.

60. I believe orthodox religion is all right but radicals upset the influence of the church.

61. I go to church because I find the sermon usually interesting.

62. I am interested in the church because of its work for moral and social reform in which I desire to share.

63. I believe the church would be all right if it kept close to the teachings of Jesus but it does not and so fails.

64. I feel the need for religion but do not find what I want in any one church.

65. I think the church is a parasite on society.

66. I think the church is a place for religious instruction of young and old and is essential in every community.

67. I think the church is after money all the time and I am tired of hearing of it.

68. I think the church and organized religion is necessary for the superstitious and uneducated but it should become less and less important.

69. I am careless about religion and church relationships but I would not like to see my attitude become general.

70. I like the opportunity in the young people's society for discussion and self-expression.

71. I think the church is valuable for creating ideals and for setting a person right morally.

72. I think the organized church is an enemy of science and truth.

73. I like to go to church for I get something worth while to think about and it keeps my mind filled with right thoughts.

74. I enjoy my church because there is a spirit of friendliness there.

75. I believe the church is the greatest influence for good government and right living.

76. The church is to me primarily a place to commune with God.

77. I do not receive any benefit from attending church services but I think it helps some people.

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78. I give my money to support the church but I keep out of it because there is so much petty jangling.

79. I believe the church leaders are afraid to stand up and say what is true and right. The church is weak.

80. I enjoy a good church service but do not take much stock in the teachings.

81. If I were picking a man for a responsible job I would give the preference to a regular church-member.

82. The church does not interest me now but sometime I expect I shall find it worth while to join.

83. I am attracted to the church by its courageous attack on what is commonly called impossible.

84. I find the social life of the church too slow and uninteresting and that is all I care about.

85. I believe the church has done and can do far more for society than any organization of science.

86. My belief is that the church is more spiritual and a greater force for good than it was a hundred years ago. It is increasing in value.

87. I think the church is hundreds of years behind the times and cannot make a dent of modern life.

88. I like church occasionally but do not feel that one should get too ardent about worship or church-going.

89. I believe the church has grown up with the primary purpose of perpetuating the spirit and teachings of Jesus and deserves loyal support.

90. I like the ceremonies of my church but do not miss them much when I stay away.

91. I regard the church as the institution for the development of spiritual life individually and socially.

92. I believe the church is far removed from the essentials of Christian love and brotherly kindness.

93. I believe church-membership is almost essential to living life at its best.

94. I believe the church is as necessary as the school for our social life.

95. I do not believe in any brand of religion or in any particular church but I have never given the subject serious thought.

96. I regard the church as a static, crystallized institution, and as such it is unwholesome and detrimental to society and the individual.

97. I think the church is learning more and more how to correlate science and religion for the good of humanity.

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98. No one attempts to live up to the ideals of the church but it serves as a good stimulator.

99. To me the church is more or less boring.

100. I believe the church is a powerful agency for promoting both individual and social righteousness.

101. I believe the church is the greatest institution in America today.

102. I have no desire to attend, join, or have anything to do with any church I know.

103. I find the services of the church both restful and inspiring.

104. I find more satisfaction in doing church work than in anything else I do.

105. I think the church is more controlled by magic than by reason.

106. I believe the average of the morals of church-members is considerably higher than the average of non-church-members in the same social status.

107. The church is needed to develop religion which has always been concerned with man's deepest feelings and greatest values.

108. I believe the church is full of hypocrites and have no use for it.

109. I never want to miss church for I always get an inspiration from a good church service.

110. I think the church keeps business and politics up to a higher standard than they would otherwise tend to maintain.

111. I think the average church has a deadening influence and prevents true religion.

112. I believe in the ideals of the church but I am tired of denominationalism.

113. I feel the church perpetuates the values which man puts highest in his philosophy of life.

114. I believe the church is fundamentally sound but some of its adherents have given it a bad name.

115. I cannot think through the mysteries of religion but like to get the assurances of reality, of God, and immortality that the church gives and stands for.

116. I believe the majority of church-members are shameless hypocrites. They do not practice what they pretend to do and do not care.

117. I believe the church is working steadily for the application of the principles of Jesus to all personal-social relationships.

118. I believe the church is an excellent character-building institution for children.

119. I think the church is a hindrance to true religion for it still depends upon magic, superstition, and myth.

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120. I think the church is a divine institution and deserves the highest respect and loyalty.

121. I believe churches are as essential to religion as schools are to education.

122. I think the church is cursed by a narrow-minded, selfish lot of people.

123. I think the church is necessary but it puts its emphasis on the wrong things.

124. I support the church because I think it is the most unselfish and idealistic institution in society.

125. I respect any church-member's beliefs but I think it is all "bunk."

126. I believe the church develops friendships and ideals that help one to reject low and evil purposes and acts.

127. I think the church seeks to impose a lot of worn-out dogmas and medieval superstitions.

128. My experience is that the church is hopelessly out of date.

129. I believe the church is doing a good work but will have to work on a seven-day-a-week program if it is going to keep up with the job.

130. I believe the church is a changing human institution but it has divine realities behind it. The spirit of God moves through it.

It will of course be noticed that some of these statements are ambiguous and that others are unsuitable for the present scale because their acceptance or rejection does not indicate whether the indorser is really in favor of the church or against it. In fact, many of the statements in this list violate the several criteria that we have mentioned, but there was a definite plan in leaving these defective statements in the list. Since there was available a criterion of ambiguity and a criterion of irrelevance, it was thought best to retain defective statements in the experimental list so as to see whether these undesirable statements would be eliminated by the objective criteria. It is undoubtedly desirable so to devise the technique of attitude scale construction that a minimum is left for the personal judgment of the investigator as regards the value of statements of opinion for the scale. It will later be seen that on the whole the most defective statements are fairly well eliminated by the objective criteria.

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In the present study the subjects were asked to sort the 130 statements into eleven piles to represent an evenly graduated series of attitudes from those extremely against the church to those which are very much in favor of the church. It should be noted that in sorting the statements the subject did not express his own opinions about the church. He was not asked to state what he believed about any religious issue. He was asked merely to sort the statements into the eleven piles, and we think that this sorting will be done similarly by those who favor the church and by those who are antagonistic to the church.

The 130 statements were mimeographed on small slips, one statement on each slip. A set of these 130 slips was given to each subject. He was also given eleven master-slips of the same size lettered from A to K. Only three of these slips were labeled as to the kind of opinions that should be placed on them, namely A, which contained the statement, "This pile expresses highest appreciation of the church"; K, which contained the statement, "This pile expresses strongest depreciation of the church," and the slip F, which contained the statement, "This pile contains only neutral expressions."

It is a fundamentally important matter that the eleven piles should not be described except to give a starting-point such as neutrality and the two ends. If the eleven piles were defined by descriptive phrases such as is customary on rating scales of various kinds, the fundamental characteristic of the present measurement method would be destroyed. The reason for this is that the intervals between successive piles should be apparently equal shifts of opinion as judged by the subject. If they were labeled by descriptive phrases such as the steps in a graphic rating scale, the intervals would be defined by the descriptive phrases and there would be no guaranty that the successive intervals appear equal to the subjects. The intervals, if described by the investigator, would be arbitrary and set by him. It is essential that the subject

( 31) be given the freedom to adjust the slips in the piles so that the intervals in attitude from one pile to the next seem to him to be equal. That is the unit of measurement for the present scale.

The detailed instructions given to the subject were as follows:


1.  The 130 slips contain statements regarding the value of the church. These have been made by various persons, students, and others. 

2.  As a first step in the making of a scale that may be used in a test of opinions relating to the church and religion we want a number of persons to sort these 130 slips into eleven piles. 

3.  You are given eleven slips with letters on them, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K. Please arrange these before you in regular order. On slip A put those statements which you believe express the highest appreciation of the value of the church. On slip F put those expressing a neutral position. On slip K put those slips which express the strongest depreciation of the church. On the rest of the slips arrange statements in accordance with the degree of appreciation or depreciation expressed in them. 

4.  This means that when you are through sorting you will have eleven piles arranged in order of value-estimate from A, the highest, to K, the lowest. 

5.  Do not try to get the same number in each pile. They are not evenly distributed. 

6.  The numbers on the slips are code numbers and have nothing to do with the arrangement in piles. 

7.  You will find it easier to sort them if you look over a number of the slips, chosen at random, before you begin to sort. 

8.  It will probably take you about forty-five minutes to sort them. 

q. When you are through sorting, please clip the piles together, each with its letter slip on top. Replace the eleven sets, clipped carefully, in the big envelope and return to E. J. Chave, Room 306, Swift Hall, University of Chicago.

10. Put your name and university classification on slip inclosed.

Each subject was asked to indicate by number the two statements in each of the eleven piles which seemed to him to be most representative of that pile. This was intended to facilitate the selection of the statements to be used in the final scale but it is doubtful whether this procedure will be retained in this form in future scale construction.

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The returns were tabulated so as to show for each subject the pile in which he placed every one of the 130 statements. From such a tabulation the data were assembled into Table I, which is a summary of the sorting of the 130 statements by 300 subjects. The first column of the table gives the code number of the statements by which they may be easily identified. The next two columns contain the scale-value and the Q-value, which is a measure of the ambiguity of each statement. These two measurements will be explained in a later paragraph. The remaining columns give the accumulative frequencies for each statement. The interpretation of this part of the table for statement No. I as an example is as follows. None of the 300 subjects placed statement No. I in any of the first five piles. This is indicated by the entries of o.00 in each of the first five columns. In this group 8 per cent placed this statement in pile F; 17 per cent placed it in F or G; 23 per cent placed it in F, G, or H; 33 per cent placed it in pile I or to the left of that pile; 52 per cent placed it in pile J or to the left of that pile, while all of them placed this statement in pile K or some-where to the left of K.


In an experiment of this sort in which large numbers of subjects participate, and in which the experimenter does not have the opportunity to observe each subject at work, one must expect that some subjects will do their task in a perfunctory or careless manner. It is also possible that some subjects fail to understand the experiment or fail to read the mimeographed instructions care-fully enough to understand just what is wanted. It has seemed desirable, therefore, to set up some criterion by which we could identify those individual records which were so inconsistent that they should be eliminated from our tabulations. The labor of tabulating the data is considerable, and we are justified in eliminating those individual subjects who have not responded with sufficient care or interest.

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<insert Table 1>


table 1, continued

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It is also an important consideration to avoid any criterion of inconsistency for the elimination of careless or indifferent subjects which may constitute in effect an artificial loading of the main results of the investigation. As a criterion for eliminating individual subjects we adopted the rule that any subject who placed 30 or more of the 130 statements in one of the eleven piles was excluded. This objective criterion eliminated a number of subjects who were known to do the sorting of the statements carelessly and still others who showed in conversation that they had evidently failed to understand the instructions. We do not believe that this is in any sense an infallible criterion but it has undoubtedly served to eliminate many of the subjects whose sortings were careless or who misunderstood the instructions. In the entire group of 341 subjects who participated in the original sorting of the 130 statements 41 were eliminated from our final tabulations by this criterion.


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