Measures of Spiritual and Transpersonal Constructs for Use in Yoga Research

By MacDonald, Douglas; Friedman, Harris | International Journal of Yoga, January-June 2009 | Go to article overview

Measures of Spiritual and Transpersonal Constructs for Use in Yoga Research


MacDonald, Douglas, Friedman, Harris, International Journal of Yoga


Byline: Douglas. MacDonald, Harris. Friedman

This article presents information on standardized paper-and-pencil measures of spiritual and transpersonal constructs that hold promise for use in yoga research. Nine instruments are discussed at length including the Assessment Schedule for Altered States of Consciousness, Ego Grasping Orientation, Expressions of Spirituality Inventory, Hindu Religious Coping Scale, Measures of Hindu Pathways, Self-Expansiveness Level Form, Spiritual Orientation Inventory, Spiritual Transcendence Scale, and the Vedic Personality Inventory. As well, a listing of an additional 14 measures, along with primary citations, is provided. In conclusion, the authors proffer recommendations for the use of psychometric tests and provide a general proposal for programmatic research.

Introduction

Over the past three decades, there has been an increasing interest within the scientific community in concepts of spirituality and methods of spiritual transformation such as yoga, as well as in exploring their relationship and relevance to human functioning and well-being. Ostensibly accompanying this growing interest has been efforts at devising methodological approaches to their study that do justice to their subtlety and complexity. Unfortunately, there is little consensus as to how such concepts should be best defined and investigated. This is most evident in the ongoing debate within transpersonal psychology, the subdiscipline of psychology most concerned with such concepts and practices, regarding the centrality of qualitative (e.g., phenomenological) versus quantitative (e.g., standardized testing) methods, which we have discussed previously in another article.[sup] [1]

Notwithstanding such controversy, perusal of the available literature within the quantitative domain reveals a broad array of measures that operationally define a variety of concepts falling within the domain of spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Although we have also argued elsewhere[sup] [2] that such measures have inherent limitations and should not be seen as the sole or necessarily best means for studying spiritual and transpersonal, as well as transcendent, concepts, and practices, they nonetheless hold potential to help systematically standardize and organize research activities and findings to better facilitate the integration of research into the corpus of mainstream scientific knowledge. As such, we maintain that psychometric tests should be seen as an ally and not an enemy of investigators interested in the study of spiritual and transpersonal concepts and practices. In this vein, the purpose of this article is to provide information about available assessment instruments that appear promising for use by yoga researchers and/or transpersonally oriented studies involving Indian samples.

In total, nine measures are presented at length [Table 1]a-c, and an additional 14 are listed in [Table 2]. Based upon our previous test survey publications[sup] [2],[3],[4] as well as a perusal of literature published from 1999 to present through a variety of online databases (e.g., PubMed, PsycINFO), we identified several instruments that either measure a construct of central importance to spiritual and transpersonal studies (e.g., altered states of consciousness, spirituality, methods of transformation, etc.) and/or have been utilized in at least one cross-cultural study. Because of space limitations, we arbitrarily selected only nine of the tests that we thought would be of greatest interest to readers, who are invited to look at our previous works for a survey of more than a hundred measures.

Assessment schedule for altered states of consciousness[sup]

The assessment schedule for altered states of consciousness (ASASC) was developed by VanQuekelberghe, Altstotter-Gleich, and Hertweck[sup] [5] to serve as a comprehensive measure of altered or nonordinary states of consciousness. …

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