Exploratory Factor Analysis of the Religious Maturity Scale

Article excerpt

Leak and Fish (1999) provided initial evidence for the validity of the Religious Maturity Scale - Version 2 (RM-2). The scale was developed to assess six areas of religious maturity specified by Allport (1950). Consequently, information concerning the number and nature of factors underlying responses to the scale is important. The analysis revealed four factors corresponding to the dynamic, differentiated, comprehensive, and heuristic aspects of religious maturity. The results have implications for the future development of specific subscales as well as for the value of Allport's theory of religious maturity.

The concept of religious maturity, despite the difficulties inherent in its conceptualization and measurement, holds theoretical and practical appeal for a wide variety of individuals, including theologians, developmental and personality psychologists, counselors, and educators. The most influential theorist of religious maturity is Gordon Allport. Allport's (1950) theory specified six components that defined the mature religious sentiment: (a) the strength of the religious motivation and commitment (i.e., religion as a dynamic master-motive that directs one's life), (b) differentiation and complexity of thought with respect to religious-existential issues, (c) comprehensiveness (it provides meaning to life and promotes tolerance of alternative viewpoints), (d) heuristic quality (humility and a readiness to doubt), (e) directiveness (it has moral consequences), and (f) an integral nature. Allport devoted special attention to the first four components listed above (see Allport [ch. 3] for a detailed presentation of these dimensions).

Allport and his students later developed the Intrinsic Religiosity Scale (IR) as a measure of religious maturity (Allport & Ross, 1967). Despite its popularity, the IR scale has been severely criticized on empirical and conceptual grounds (Altemeyer, 1996; Batson, Schoenrade, & Ventis, 1993; Kirkpatrick & Hood, 1990). Specifically, the IR scale assesses only a few aspects of maturity, while jettisoning the integral, differentiated, and heuristic components. It seems that Allport excised too much in his efforts to operationalize a meaningful but complex construct, and, as a consequence, several facets of religious maturity were sacrificed in the development of the IR scale.

In response to this problem, Leak and Fish (1999) developed and validated a 59-item scale to measure the six facets of religious maturity listed above. The evidence for the construct validity of their scale is impressive to date, but a need still exists to: (a) explore the number and nature of the factors within their scale, and (b) develop a modified scale with fewer items for those researchers and educators who may wish to assess religious maturity with greater brevity. It was the purpose of this study to provide that information.

METHOD

PARTICIPANTS AND MATERIALS

The participants were recruited from several lower- and upper-level psychology classes at a Jesuit university and a large state university. Only students reporting themselves as at least slightly interested in religion were used in data analysis. This selection resulted in 121 male and 182 female participants, with an average age of 21.0 years (SD = 4.6; range = 17 to 49). The religious affiliation of the final sample was approximately 55% Catholic, with the vast majority of the remainder coming from various Protestant denominations.

Students completed the Religious Maturity Scale - Version 2 (RM-2; Leak & Fish, 1999). The scale contains 59 items, presented in a 5-point Likert format, and it was designed to assess each of Allport's components of religious maturity.1

RESULTS

Following Gorsuch's recommendation (1997), exploratory common factor analysis was selected for the analysis of items in the RM-2 scale. The Kaiser criterion suggested 13 factors while the scree test (Cattell, 1978, chap. …