The Measurement of Attitude

Chapter 6: Further Studies of Validity

L. L. Thurstone and E. J. Chave

Table of Contents | Next | Previous

In the previous chapter we have already referred to the use of the information obtained from the first page of the test form. These data have been shown to have value in establishing both the reliability and validity of the scale. They will now be further examined to show their significance in the interpretation of the results obtained from our objective measurement of several groups. This double check is of special value when the scale is to be used as a basis of educational program or guidance. The free statements made by each subject on the first page of his blank are useful in the interpretation of the frequency distributions.

These free statements of attitude have also been carefully studied and are being used in the revision of the scale. The attitude variable will be more specifically defined. The title of the scale will probably read, "Attitude toward the Best Type of Church I Know." Experience with the first scale suggests this change in statement and the revision will undoubtedly aid in making a more accurate diagnostic instrument.

On the first page of the blank there were two questions: "Do you attend church frequently?" and "Are you an active member of a church?" Each person was asked before checking the statements of the scale to write a brief statement of his own attitude toward the church. In answer to the first question 50.2 per cent of the Freshmen, 36.7 per cent of the Sophomores, 42.7 per cent of the juniors, 45.2 per cent of the Seniors, and 46 per cent of the graduates said they attended church frequently. In response to the second question, the percentages of the groups who said they were active members were: Freshmen, 38.2 per cent; Sophomores, 28.1 per cent; Juniors, 36.o per cent; Seniors, 37.5 per cent, and

( 84) graduates, 40.2 per cent. In each case there is a distinct drop in percentage from the Freshmen class to the Sophomore class but an increase in percentage from the Sophomore group to the graduates. The largest percentage of frequent attendance is in the Freshmen group, but the largest percentage of active members is in the graduate group. The graduate group was composed chiefly of classes in the law, medical, and psychological departments. The undergraduate groups were of wider samplings.

table 8

Table VIII indicates the relation between the scores on the test and the answers to the two foregoing questions. On the aver-age it was nearly ten to one that if a person voted "yes" on either question of frequent attendance or active membership his scale position would be found in the favorable half of the scale. However, a considerable number who are rated in the anti-church half of the scale indicated the habit of frequent attendance and active membership in the church.

Students rated in every part of the scale showed appreciation of the church as an institution in society. Only a few gave unqualified approval or disapproval. Nearly all marked shortcom-

( 85) -ings of the church. The range of statements on the scale indorsed by members of each group, as indicated by the graphs, was wide, but there were few at the extremes. Likewise in the written statements on the first page a few manifest blind loyalty, bitter prejudice, or careless superficiality, but the majority of the students show that they have considered relationship to the church in a serious way. Few seem to indicate any dogmatic or intolerant attitude. Many apparently have had little acquaintance with mod-ern, progressive churches, and their attitudes are colored by unfortunate experiences with conservative and intolerant religious persons and churches.

Such statements as the following reveal the reason for sharp criticisms. They show the type of churches that the students have attended or from which their impressions have come. These statements are given in the students' own words :

Most churches follow a definite, unchangeable creed which is not practicable in the changing age.

The church is medieval, too slow to keep pace with modern thought.

The church is hopelessly backward in rational thinking.

I think most of the church doctrines are absurd and only good for emotional and ignorant people.

I have found too much hypocrisy, prejudice, fear of God and hell, and too little of human fellowship in the church.

One professor seems to have had only experience of reactionary groups for he says: "I regard the church as hopelessly allied with reaction. The leaders are chiefly trained in antiquities. Even if they have progressive inclinations they shape their teachings to the more reactionary elements in their congregations." One student frankly confesses: "I am afraid a lack of experience with the church makes me prejudiced against it."

The students on the average had definite attitudes toward churches in general and their statements and marking show the color of their experiences. But many showed that they differentiated between churches and though some of their experiences had

( 86) been unhappy ones they had discovered satisfying religious groups, practices, and beliefs. One student said: "I have taken a religious course at the university this quarter and it has meant more to me than any church in attaining the religious spirit. I have learned to think of religion in a bigger way than the churches teach." Another said: "I have been prejudiced against the church by early training but am beginning to have a new value for the church for I am coming to know different kinds of churches." Another said: "I believe the more modern churches are trying to meet human needs." And a professor confessed: "Toward most churches I have only a feeling of impatience at their misplaced emphases and their distorted values, but for such a local church as the one I attend here I have great admiration because of its constructive idealism, though I do not agree with all I hear."

The number of hearty indorsements of the church was rather surprisingly large and was well distributed among men and women, and across the different religious groupings, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish. Consider the following as frequent samples:

I thoroughly believe in the church and I think a great effort is being made to interpret the fundamental principles of religion in the light of our changing modern life.

I regard the church as the most potent factor in civilization today.

I believe in the church and want to do my part. In spite of its inadequate adaptation to social conditions I am convinced that it is one of the most constructive agencies in society and is in a process of evolution.

The church has had a most important influence in my life. I obtain help from the church I cannot get elsewhere.

I find my finest friendships in the church.

Of course there were many platitudes and patronizing comments, as:

I think it is a wonderful institution.

I believe the church is a benefit.

I am strongly favorable to the church.

I'm for the church.

( 87)

It is O.K.

It is a fine thing.

There were a few in each class who showed careless superficiality in their expression of opinion, as such statements as these indicate:

I have never taken church attendance seriously.

I know too little about the church to express an opinion.

I go to church on holidays.

I go to hear special speakers.

I haven't time for the church.

I go to church because I am accustomed to go but I don't know a thing about religion.

A secret longing for greater assurance as to the realities of religion seems to be implied in some of the responses. Some are impatient with the failure of the church to live up to its ideals. Some who have taken religion and the church for granted, with-out thinking through beliefs and practices, have been' challenged for the first time. Consider the following expressions of opinion:

I am confused in my religious ideas but have never had any help from a church. What beliefs I have I've had to work out for myself.

I believe in God but do not find any satisfaction in the church. I seldom go to church but I pray every day.

I am really religiously inclined but rebel against the narrowness of the church.

I believe in Christianity but it seems to me that denominationalism obscures it.

I believe in Christianity but do not think the church is at all willing to follow the revolutionary teachings of Jesus.

I am a strong evolutionist and can scarcely agree with the church and its doctrines.

I am an atheist but am not against the church.

I do not go to church because the church today seems too far behind the times and too narrow-minded to suit me.

Mere attendance and ceremony mean nothing if a church's teachings are not applicable to daily life in all its phases.

I believe I have to make the best religion I can without the aid of a church.

( 89)

Although I do not attend church regularly, I believe in a personal God and consider myself religious.

I'd give up the doctrines and creeds of the church for something simple —the symbol of Good.

The variety of criticism against the church is interesting. It shows what a difficult task the church has to satisfy all the different kinds of people with different backgrounds, needs, desires, and ideas. Take the following for illustration of student criticism:

Ninety per cent of churchgoers want to be spoon-fed instead of thinking for themselves.

The church is hypocritical, superficial, and meddles in things that do not concern it.

There are too many petty quarrels in the church.

The church is all right, but it could be made a lot more interesting.

It is a waste of time to go to church unless the minister is a man of superior ability.

I have gone to church and Sunday school a lot in my time but have found it unsatisfying and so do not now attend.

The church sanctions un-Christlike activities like war.

The church is a part of the capitalistic scheme to keep people down.

I like the social life of the church but I cannot believe in Christian theology, the divinity of Christ, or a personal God.

I dislike the forms of Christianity. It would be pleasant to believe in some less credulous mysticism.

I am indifferent to the church. Most are social clubs whose members would be horrified if they were required to in any way approximate the revolutionary teachings of their alleged leader. I believe in Christianity but the church is not its representative.

I do not attend church because of the prevalent hand-shaking system.

The foregoing analysis indicates various factors that need attention if the attitudes of an individual or of a group are to be changed. When a series of scales is developed for measuring religious attitudes, they will give valuable information about the attitudes of a group,

The instrument and the methods of its production which we have described offer a pattern for the construction of other scales

( 89) to measure other religious attitudes. A battery of such tests would serve to give a most worth-while diagnosis of any group with which a religious educator was working and to measure the results of the processes used. Other attitude scales might be developed, such as those relating to the function of the idea of God in the control of conduct; the value of prayer; the observance of Sunday, and the significance of a belief in immortality.


No notes

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2