The RF Scale

Survey and associated text ©2006 Bob Altemeyer.
Web adaptation by Chris W. Johnson.
Revised 9-Sep-2012.

You will probably find that you agree with some of the following statements, and disagree with others, to varying extents. Please indicate your reaction to each statement according to the following scale:

-4=You very strongly disagree with the statement.
-3=You strongly disagree with the statement.
-2=You moderately disagree with the statement.
-1=You slightly disagree with the statement.
0=You feel exactly and precisely neutral about the statement.
1=You slightly agree with the statement.
2=You moderately agree with the statement.
3=You strongly agree with the statement.
4=You very strongly agree with the statement.

Important: You may find that you sometimes have different reactions to different parts of a statement. For example, you might very strongly disagree (“-4”) with one idea in a statement, but slightly agree (“+1”) with another idea in the same item. When this happens, please combine your reactions, and [record] how you feel on balance (a “-3” in this case).

-4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4
1 God has given humanity a complete, unfailing guide to happiness and salvation, which must be totally followed.
2 No single book of religious teachings contains all the intrinsic, fundamental truths about life.
3 The basic cause of evil in this world is Satan, who is still constantly and ferociously fighting against God.
4 It is more important to be a good person than to believe in God and the right religion.
5 There is a particular set of religious teachings in this world that are so true, you can’t go any “deeper” because they are the basic, bedrock message that God has given humanity.
6 When you get right down to it, there are basically only two kinds of people in the world: the Righteous, who will be rewarded by God, and the rest, who will not.
7 Scriptures may contain general truths, but they should not be considered completely, literally true from beginning to end.
8 To lead the best, most meaningful life, one must belong to the one, fundamentally true religion.
9 “Satan” is just the name people give to their own bad impulses. There really is no such thing as a diabolical “Prince of Darkness” who tempts us.
10 Whenever science and sacred scripture conflict, science is probably right.
11 The fundamentals of God’s religion should never be tampered with, or compromised with others’ beliefs.
12 All of the religions in the world have flaws and wrong teachings. There is no perfectly true, right religion.

Your score on the RF scale is .

Scores will range from 12 to 108. Yours falls at % within that range.

[Y]ou can’t score lower than 12, or higher than 108, no matter how you try. Intro psychology students at my Canadian university average about 50, while their parents usually land a few points higher. A nationwide sample of some 300 members of an unnamed fundamentalist Protestant church in the United States, gathered by Ted Witzig, thumped out a 93.1—the highest group score I have yet seen.

Your famous intuition probably led you to suspect this scale has something to do with religious conservatism (especially if you read the title of this chapter). So you were wised up and should not view your score with much faith (or hope, or charity).

Bruce Hunsberger and I called this the Religious Fundamentalism scale when we developed it some years ago. We did not mean by “fundamentalism” a particular set of religious beliefs, a creed. It was clear that the mind-set of fundamentalism could be found in many faiths. Instead we tried to measure a person’s attitudes toward whatever beliefs she had, trying to identify the common underlying psychological elements in the thinking of people who were commonly called Christian fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and Muslim fundamentalists.

We thought a fundamentalist in any of these major faiths would feel that her religious beliefs contained the fundamental, basic, intrinsic, inerrant truth about humanity and the Divine—fundamentally speaking. She would also believe this essential truth is fundamentally opposed by forces of evil that must be vigorously fought, and that this truth must be followed today according to the fundamental, unchangeable practices of the past. Finally, those who follow these fundamental beliefs would have a special relationship with the deity.

Research has confirmed that the Religious Fundamentalism scale has validity in all the religions named. You can find some high scorers in all of them who fit the description just given. More to the point, the scale may give us a way to study the psychology of the “Religious Right” in America today.

Survey and associated text ©2006 Bob Altemeyer. This web page was adapted by Chris W. Johnson from the material in Dr. Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians, pp. 106-107, chapter 4. Any mistakes are my fault, not Dr. Altemeyer's. The text of the survery is untouched by this adaptation, but minor changes to the surrounding text were made. For instance, the explanation of how to compute your RF score has been omitted because this page does the computation for you. Also, the footnotes in the text following the survey have been omitted. See the book for full details.

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