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The multidimensional nature of Quest motivation.

Although Daniel Batson's (1976) construct of "Religion as Quest" has been widely applauded as an important theoretical innovation in the assessment of religious motivation, there are lingering concerns regarding the validity of the Quest construct. This study follows up some past suggestions in the literature that Quest may be a multidimensional construct and that facets of Quest may have very different relationships with religious variables. To test these hypotheses we constructed a multidimensional measure of Quest and administered it to 183 college students along with measures of spiritual well-being, Christian orthodoxy, extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity, and Batson's 12-item Quest measure. Overall, the results suggest that Quest is indeed a multidimensional construct and that the dimensions of Quest need to be assessed separately to assess Quest's construct validity. Specifically, two broad trends were noted. First, some facets of Quest seem to capture the free-roaming existential Quest Batson has frequently described. However, other facets of Quest seem to be compatible with orthodox Christian beliefs, suggesting that possessing metaphysical convictions are compatible with Quest-like attributes.


On September 11, 2001 religion wore a variety of masks. On that day, religion motivated heroic deeds and acts of profound compassion as well as providing the impetus for acts of hatred and destruction. For psychology of religion researchers these disparate faces have motivated decades of effort to describe and quantify a religion that is mature, compassionate, and meaningful versus a religion that is utilitarian, dogmatic, or fanatical.

The most influential theory in this area, dating back to the 50s, has been Gordon Allport's distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation. Early on, Allport (1950) provided rich conceptual definitions of these constructs. Specifically, intrinsic religiosity was described as mature and meaningful religion, whereas extrinsic religiosity was described as immature and utilitarian in nature. In a widely cited quote, Allport summarized this distinction: "the extrinsically motivated individual uses his religion, whereas the intrinsically motivated lives his" (Allport & Ross, 1967, p. 434). However, although Allport's descriptions of mature versus immature religion have been widely applauded, his operationalization of these constructs has generated criticism. Specifically, rather than measuring mature religious strivings, the Intrinsic subscale of the Allport and Ross Religious Orientation Scale appears to assess religious commitment or self-rated importance of religion (Donahue, 1985; Kirkpatrick & Hood, 1990). Some have even suggested that the Intrinsic religiosity subscale assesses the fanaticism of the "true believer" (Batson, Schoenrade, & Ventis, 1993).

The promise and problems of Quest motivation

Beginning in the 1970s, Daniel Batson and colleagues have argued that Allport failed to include facets of mature religion in his measurement of intrinsic religiosity. Specifically, Batson has argued that Allport described features of mature religion--complexity, readiness to face doubt, self-criticism, knowing incompleteness, tentativeness, a continuing search for truth--which he failed to directly assess in the Religious Orientation Scale (Batson et al., 1993). To remedy this situation, Batson proposed an additional religious motivation called "Quest." According to Batson, Quest motives involve many of those features described, but not formally assessed, by Allport. In Batson's words, Quest captures a religious orientation that "involves honestly facing existential questions in all their complexity, while at the same time resisting clear-cut, pat answers" (Batson et al., p. 166). Further, Batson considers Quest to be a "religious" motivation in that Quest motives involve a willingness to struggle with existential questions. However, these questions may or may not involve belief in a Transcendent Other (i.e., God): "There may or may not be a belief in a transcendent reality, but there is a transcendent, religious aspect to the individual's life. We shall call this open-ended, questioning approach religion as quest" (p. 166).

Although Batson's Quest construct has been widely applauded as an important theoretical innovation, the assessment of Quest has proved problematic. For example, the early version of Batson's Interactional Scale (his Quest measure) proved to be unreliable and was modified twice over the years (Batson, 1976; Batson & Ventis, 1982; Batson & Schoenrade, 1991b). More importantly, Donahue (1985) raised a variety of concerns about the validity of the Quest measure. Specifically, Donahue suggested that Quest might be measuring agnosticism or religious conflict. Batson has responded to these concerns (Batson & Schoenrade, 1991a), but the issue continues to be debated.

Is Quest a multidimensional construct?

One of the striking aspects of the Quest construct is the heterogeneity of the features it is intended to capture: Change, questioning, complexity, readiness to face doubt, self-criticism, knowing incompleteness, tentativeness, existential motives, a continuing search for truth. Clearly these features are related, but many reflect distinct processes. For example, a person might be tentative in their current religious beliefs but does that necessarily imply that they will change their beliefs over time? These considerations suggest that Quest may be a multifaceted construct.

The multidimensional nature of Quest has received some attention in the literature. In constructing the latest version of the Quest measure, Batson and Schoenrade (1991b) suggested that Quest involves three dimensions: Readiness to face existential questions, religious doubt, and openness to change. However, Batson and Schoenrade did not explore these dimensions as distinct constructs. Further evidence of Quest's multidimensionality comes from Watson, Morris, and Hood (1989) who noted that Quest items appear to load on distinct dimensions corresponding to the intrinsic and extrinsic constructs. Recently, Beck, Baker, Robbins, and Dow (2001) found that when the Quest dimensions of openness to change and tentativeness were assessed individually these constructs had very different relationships with religious variables. Even more recently, Edwards, Hall, and Slater (2002) factor analyzed items from four Quest scales and observed six distinct Quest factors.

The evidence for the multidimensionality of Quest suggests one possible answer to the lingering concerns over Quest's validity. Specifically, certain features of Quest may indeed be correlated with agnosticism or heterodoxy. However, other aspects of Quest may be positively associated with mature religious strivings. Lacking the ability to discriminate between these dimensions of Quest, future research may be limited in precisely describing mature religious functioning.

The dimensions of Quest

To date, only Beck, Baker, Robbins, and Dow (2001) have attempted to isolate and develop new measures to uniquely assess dimensions of Quest. However, in that study only two facets of Quest were assessed: Openness to change and tentativeness. To further explore the dimensionality of the Quest construct this study attempted to more comprehensively assess facets of Quest. Retaining the two dimensions of Openness to Change and Tentativeness, we identified an additional seven Quest dimensions (see Table 1 for a list and definitions of the nine Quest dimensions) and constructed an instrument to assess each: The Multidimensional Quest Orientation Scale (MQOS; see the Appendix for the items of the MQOS and scoring instructions).

Five of the MQOS subscales follow directly from Batson's various descriptions of the Quest construct: Tentativeness, Openness to Change, Exploration, Complexity, and Existential Motives. Two dimensions were intended to assess tolerance, openness, and acceptance of other religious faiths/worldviews. Specifically, to assess openness to other Christian faiths we constructed the Ecumenism subscale (this MQOS scale is intended for use only in Christian populations). In order to assess openness to all major world religions, we also constructed the Universality subscale. An additional scale was developed for Christian populations to assess the degree to which a person endorses a literal interpretation of the Bible as opposed to moralistic interpretations. Finally, following Batson's emphasis on existential motives in Quest, we constructed a Religious Angst subscale to assess the degree of existential emotions experienced as a part of a person's religious journey. Although there are undoubtedly additional facets of Quest, we felt that these nine dimensions provided a comprehensive sweep of the Quest domain.

The present study

Although research and theory has suggested that Quest may be a multidimensional construct, little attention has been devoted to isolating and operationalizing subdimensions of Quest and comparing their relationships with other religious constructs. This research is important in light of continuing concerns over the validity of Quest. Should facets of Quest display differential relationships with religious variables, the multidimensional assessment of Quest may provide important clues to describe mature religious functioning. Toward this end, the MQOS was administered to a sample of college students along with measures of spiritual well-being, religious orientation, and Christian orthodoxy. The study addressed two main questions. First, do the MQOS subscales represent distinct dimensions? And, second, do the MQOS subscales display different relationships with the other religious variables assessed?


Participants and procedure

Participants were 183 undergraduate and graduate students from Abilene Christian University. Sixty-six percent of the sample was female. The mean age of the participants was 21.17 years (SD = 3.99). Sixty-one percent of the participants were affiliated with the Churches of Christ, 12% identified themselves as Nondenominational, 8% were Baptist, and 6% Catholic (the remainder of the participants identified themselves as either Christian Church, Lutheran, Methodist, or Christian Reformed Church). Participants completed measures assessing Quest, intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity, Christian orthodoxy, and spiritual well-being.

Assessment instruments

The Multidimensional Quest Orientation Scale. Developed for this study, and described earlier, the MQOS consists of nine subscales assessing various Quest dimensions (see Appendix for items): Tentativeness, Change, Ecumenism, Universality, Exploration, Moralistic Interpretation, Religious Angst, Complexity, and Existential Motives. Each item is rated on a 1 to 7 likert scale (1 = Strongly disagree, 4 = Neutral, 7 = Strongly Agree). Because the psychometrics of the MQOS directly involve the goals of the study, those statistics (e.g., reliability, factor structure) are presented in the Results section.

Batson's Interactional (Quest) Scale. The version of Batson's Interactional Scale used in this study was his most recent 12-item measure (Batson & Schoenrade, 1991b). The Interactional Scale is a self-report scale where participants rate their item endorsement on a 1 to 9 likert scale. As mentioned earlier, in this 12-item version of the Interactional Scale, Batson and Schoenrade propose that it assesses three dimensions: Readiness to face existential questions, perception of doubt as positive, and openness to change. However, these subsets of items are not intended to be scored separately; the Interactional Scale only yields a single score. In this sample the Interactional Scale yielded an alpha coefficient of .76.

Religious Orientation Scale. Intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity were assessed by Allport and Ross's (1967) Religious Orientation Scale (ROS). The ROS is a 20-item self-report scale where participants rate item endorsement on a 1 to 5 likert scale. There are 11 items from the ROS that form the extrinsic subscale, the remaining 9 items form the intrinsic subscale. (For a comprehensive discussion of the psychometric properties of the Religious Orientation Scale see Donahue's 1985 review.)

Although there has been some question as to whether the Extrinsic items from the ROS are best described as a single dimension or as a two dimensional structure (Gorsuch & McPherson, 1989; Kirkpatrick, 1988), our factor analysis of the Extrinsic items for this sample indicated that a one factor solution best fit the data. Overall, in this sample the Intrinsic and Extrinsic subscales yielded alpha coefficients of .83 and .84 respectively.

Spiritual Well-Being Scale. The Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWS; Ellison, 1983; Ellison & Smith, 1991) is a 20-item self-report scale where participants rate item endorsement on a 1 to 6 likert scale. The SWS has two 10-item subscales assessing Religious Well-Being and Existential Well-Being. The Religious Well-Being subscale is intended to assess one's perception of the quality of their relationship with God. Alternatively, the Existential Well-Being subscale assesses one's perception of having a sense of life meaning and satisfaction with life. Although some questions have been raised concerning the factor structure of the SWS (Scott, Agresti, & Fitchett, 1998), it has generally demonstrated good reliability and validity coefficients (Bufford, Paloutzian, & Ellison, 1991). Specifically, the SWS has demonstrated good convergent validity with other measures of general well-being (Bufford, Paloutzian, & Ellison, 1991). In this sample the alpha coefficients for the Religious and Existential Well-Being subscales were .91 and .85 respectively.

Christian Orthodoxy Scale. As a measure of belief vs. agnosticism in the Christian religion we used the Christian Orthodoxy Scale. The Christian Orthodoxy Scale (COS; Fullerton & Hunsberger, 1982) is a 24-item scale that assesses the degree to which someone accepts beliefs central to Christianity (e.g., Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus was resurrected, Jesus performed miracles). The COS uses a self-report format where respondents rate their degree of belief or disbelief along a 6-point continuum (-3 = strongly disagree to +3 = strongly disagree). In this sample the COS generated an alpha of .95.


Properties of the MQOS

Prior to examining the relationships of the Quest dimensions as assessed by the MQOS with the other religious constructs, it was necessary to assess the psychometrics of the MQOS. Three questions were of interest. First, were the MQOS scales internally consistent? Second, were the individual MQOS subscales unidimensional? And, third, were the MQOS scales assessing distinct dimensions?

Table 2 presents the zero-order correlations between the MQOS subscales with subscale alpha coefficients presented along the diagonal. An inspection of the reliability coefficients indicates that the items of each MQOS subscale items were relatively homogeneous, generating acceptable to good internal consistency estimates across the subscales. Separate principal components analyses were also conducted for each MQOS subscale. Based upon scree tests, one-factor solutions best fit the items of the respective subscales. Overall, then, the reliability and principal components analyses suggested that the MQOS subscales were relatively homogeneous and unidimensional.

Table 2 also provides preliminary evidence that the MQOS subscales are assessing distinct dimensions. Specifically, the magnitude of these correlations ranged from .00 to .37 with a mean correlation of .15. With the MQOS subscales sharing, on average, only 2% of their variance, it initially appears that the nine dimensions of the MQOS are relatively unique facets of Quest. However, to more precisely assess the factor structure of the MQOS a final principal components analysis was conducted on the MQOS subscale totals. (1)

Figure 1 presents the scree plot from the principal components analysis of the MQOS subscale totals. As can be seen in Figure 1, a weak initial factor was followed by eight factors with eigenvalues falling off in a fairly linear fashion. We interpret this to be evidence that the MQOS subscales were assessing relatively unique dimensions and that a smaller set of overarching factors could not fit the data. Specifically, from a theoretical perspective, a weak first factor should be present; after all, these subscales are facets of one higher-order construct: Religion as quest. Yet, when we did request a one-factor solution many of the MQOS subscales had very low communalities (Tentativeness = .09, Exploration = .06, Ecumenism = .15, Moralistic Interpretation = .15, Universality = .21) indicating that this weak initial factor could not account for the variance of the majority of the subscales. In sum, these analyses reflected the findings in Table 2: The MQOS subscales are weakly related and appear to be assessing nine unique dimensions.

Relationships between Quest dimensions and the religious constructs

Are the MQOS dimensions facets of Quest? Table 3 presents the zero-order correlations between the MQOS subscales and the other religious constructs assessed in the study. Using Batson's Interactional (Quest) Scale as an independent assessment of Quest, it was observed that eight of the nine MQOS subscales were positively correlated with the Interactional Scale (in addition, even the Moralistic Interpretation subcale was marginally significant: p < .06). Further, Batson's Quest scale was the only variable assessed which all MQOS subscales were uniformly related with. In short, we have good evidence that the MQOS dimensions are facets of Quest.

Quest, religious orientation, spiritual well-being, and orthodoxy. Before discussing the relationships of the MQOS subscales with the other constructs a couple of comments are warranted. First, the overarching goals of this study were to determine if separate Quest dimensions could be isolated and reliably assessed and to explore if these dimensions had different relationships with religious constructs. Second, the correlations in Table 3 are largely exploratory in nature; we did not have clear predictions for every pair of variables. Consequently, we do not want to over-interpret these relationships until future studies replicate our findings; our main objective was to observe if the Quest variables had differential relationships with the religious constructs. With these clarifications in place we can now discuss the trends observed in Table 3.


Overall, it does seem clear in Table 3 that the MQOS subscales had different relationships with the religious constructs; that is, any two MQOS subscales might have very different relationships with a given religious construct, say, intrinsic religiosity or Christian orthodoxy. However, some broad patterns emerged. First, a set of five Quest variables--Change, Universality, Religious Angst, Complexity, Existential Motives--had relatively similar relationships with the other variables. Specifically, high scores on these MQOS subscales correlated with decreased spiritual well-being, less orthodox beliefs, decreased intrinsic scores and increased extrinsic scores. Second, the remaining four MQOS dimensions--Tentativeness, Ecumenism, Moralistic Interpretation, and Exploration--were relatively unrelated to the other religious variables. (Although Exploration scores were positively related to intrinsic religiosity ratings.) We will speculate on these trends in our Discussion section; for now, it is interesting to note that, in broad outline, these results parallel the results of Beck et al. (2001) who observed that the tentativeness and changes dimensions of Quest had different relationships with spiritual well-being and the intrinsic/extrinsic constructs. In the present study we found that the Tentativeness and Change subscales again remained distinct but were now accompanied by other Quest attributes.


The question revisited: Is Quest a multidimensional construct?

Based upon our literature review and the results of the present study we conclude that Quest is indeed a multidimensional construct. Specifically, we feel we have isolated and operationalized nine distinct Quest dimensions. Our reasons for this conclusion are (1) the nine subscales of the MQOS shared little of their variance with each other, and (2) these subscales were clearly Quest constructs in that Batson's Interactional scale was the only measure in the battery that all nine scales were positively associated with (albeit one only marginally so).

Our goal in operationalizing the dimensions of Quest had been to test the hypothesis that the Quest dimensions, once isolated, would have very different relationships with religious constructs. We felt that this approach might clarify some of the lingering issues surrounding the validity of the Quest construct. For instance, is Quest a measure of agnosticism as Donahue (1985) suggested? Our answer is that it depends on which facet of Quest you are talking about. A concrete example from our data illustrates this: Having complex, philosophical religious views was associated with agnosticism whereas tentativeness was not.

However, these conclusions are tempered by noting a number of limitations of the study. First, the psychometrics of the MQOS need replication and continued validation. For example, the Change, Universality, Angst, Complexity, and Existential Motives subscales of the MQOS displayed relatively similar relationships with the other religiosity measures. Consequently, it remains an open question that these factors, despite the small intercorrelations observed among the subscale totals, are distinct constructs. Future studies will need to examine the discriminant validity of these subscales along with their related constructs. Second, the homogeneity of our sample prohibits our generalizing to more diverse samples. This is particularly true when extending these results to other religious faiths or across cultures. For instance, two of our MQOS scales were explicitly Christian in orientation. Third, it is unknown if the content of the MQOS is comprehensive. That is, there may be other dimensions of Quest we failed to assess. And, finally, some may object to the dimensions of Quest that are presently included in the MQOS. Obviously, continued theoretical attention to this construct is warranted and we welcome any theoretical innovations.

Do you have to leave home to go on a quest?

As noted in our results, the nine MQOS subscales displayed two broad trends with high scores on the subscales of Change, Universality, Religious Angst, Complexity, and Existential Motives being associated with decreased spiritual well-being, less orthodox beliefs, decreased intrinsic scores and increased extrinsic scores. Conversely, we observed that the subscales of Tentativeness, Ecumenism, Exploration, and Moralistic Interpretation were relatively unrelated to the other religious constructs. We interpret these two trends to be evidence for two kinds of "Quests." Our interpretation parallels findings from Edwards et al. (2002). Specifically, the first kind of Quest seems to fit the description Batson had in mind when he proposed the Quest construct: A largely existential Quest that might lead a person toward or away from traditional religious beliefs and might not ever have a proper "ending." Edwards et al. have called this a "hard" Quest. When decomposed, we believe this kind of Quest is captured by the five MQOS dimensions of Change, Universality, Religious Angst, Complexity, and Existential Motives. Specifically, persons scoring high on these dimensions are frequently changing their religious views, see the world religions as equally viable avenues for pursuing truth, are philosophical and existential in orientation and, probably as a consequence, struggle with existential emotions of isolation and anxiety. These persons, our data suggest, have lower levels of spiritual well-being, are more agnostic about Christian dogma, and don't see traditional religious practice at the core of their journey. This is neither bad nor good. It just captures the free-roaming existential quest Batson has frequently described. However, it could be argued that these subscales describe a person who is unsure, conflicted, or even confused about their own metaphysical stance. Only further research will be able to distinguish a "mature" and coherent existential quest from a quest that is a disorganized groping after the Truth.

In contrast to the quest described above, we find evidence in our results for a second kind of quest, one that stays closer to home. Edwards et al. (2002) have described this as a "soft" Quest. This kind of quest embodies openness, doubt, and growth but it moves within a limited, albeit large, territory. Specifically, one can remain committed to a religious world-view yet share Quest-like attributes. In our data, the cluster of subscales including Tentativeness, Ecumenism, Exploration, and Moralistic Interpretation suggests that persons within a religious worldview, in this case Christianity, can be tentative, curious, accepting of other Christian faiths, and not beholden to Biblical literalism. These are Quest-like attributes which do not appear to be incompatible with having reached some fundamental metaphysical conclusions (e.g., Jesus is the Son of God). Many of us are aware of saints or religious leaders who displayed Quest-like attributes: Openness, courage to change, confrontation of dogma, struggles with doubt, and acceptance of others. Were their spiritual journeys less a quest for having remained within the boundaries of Christendom?

Quest and extrinsic religiosity

The most puzzling finding in the study was the positive correlation of the various Quest measures, Batson's included, with extrinsic religiosity ratings. Positive correlations between Quest and extrinsic religiosity have been observed previously in the literature (Batson, 1976; Beck et al., 2001; Watson, Morris, & Hood, 1989). We contemplated these observations and came to two tentative interpretations. First, there are some items on the ROS Extrinsic subscale that capture Quest related themes. For example, the item worded "It doesn't matter so much what I believe as long as I lead a moral life" might be interpreted as meaning that the name a person calls her Deity (e.g., Yahweh, Allah, or God) is less important than actual practice of righteousness; a sentiment which seems to embody many Quest themes. Second, in the sample we collected our data from--college students at a Christian-affiliated university--traditional religious practices (e.g., going to church, attending devotionals, participating in volunteer work) are intimately associated with social life and affiliations; that is, many campus social activities are invariably church related. In this milieu, a Quest-oriented person may engage in religious activities mainly for social connection. Consequently, their higher extrinsic scores do reflect utilitarian motives but this may be due to the social and religious context rather than an immature religious orientation. This explanation might generalize to other populations as well. A free-roaming "Quest" might be a lonely enterprise since the person might not associate Truth with any one religious group and, hence, miss out on "traveling" with a community of believers. To attenuate the isolation, this person might associate with a local church or group to obtain the social and community connections they provide. Besides, if each religious group has a (limited) window on the Truth, why not worship at the local church?

Conclusions and future directions

Overall, the present results suggest that future research with the Quest construct might find exploring the dimensionality of the construct to be a continuing line of fruitful inquiry. Further, past research using unidimensional models of Quest might be replicated using a multidimensional assessment of Quest to clarify past associations. In addition, further exploration of the relationships between Quest and the well-being measures observed in this study may provide insight concerning the association between religiosity and health (both physical and psychological). This literature has a long empirical history, and exploring the health-related issues surrounding Quest is intriguing. Our initial expectations would be that Edwards et al.'s (2002) "hard" quest would be more likely associated with decreased well-being than the "soft" quest. Finally, it is also intriguing to speculate how Quest is experienced or expressed in other cultural groups, both Christian and non-Christian. Surely the search for truth is a universal phenomenon, but the expression of that quest might take on distinctly different forms across culture and religion.


Multidimensional Quest Orientation Scale with Scoring Instructions

Directions: Please respond to each statement by indicating how much you agree or disagree with it. Write the number in the space provided, using the following rating scale:
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Disagree Neutral/Mixed Agree
Strongly Strongly

Section 1: (Sum of items generates Tentativeness score)

_______1. I believe that the more spiritually mature I become I will discover more questions than answers.

_______2. I am not disturbed by unanswered questions in my religious life.

_______3. I believe religious doubts play an important role in spiritual development.

_______4. I believe a central part of spiritual maturity is growing comfortable with doubt.

_______5. I am comfortable leaving many of my spiritual questions unanswered.

_______6. I feel that spiritually mature people struggle with doubts.

_______7. I understand that most of my religious questions cannot be answered.

_______8. I don't feel a need to know all the answers to every religious question I may have.

_______9. I feel that it is naive to expect definitive answers to deep religious questions.

_______10. My religious questions have led to deeper questions rather than definitive answers.

Section 2: (Sum of items generates Change score)

_______1. I anticipate dramatically changing my religious beliefs in the future.

_______2. I frequently assume that my current religious beliefs may be wrong.

_______3. I believe spiritual growth requires consistent change in one's religious beliefs.

_______4. I believe that changing one's religious beliefs is a good sign of spiritual development.

_______5. I often question if some of my most central religious beliefs are wrong.

_______6. Spiritual maturity involves changing one's religious beliefs over time.

_______7. I believe that consistently questioning my current religious beliefs will promote spiritual growth.

_______8. I think changing one's religious beliefs over time is a sign of spiritual maturity.

_______9. Mostly it is spiritually immature people who hold the same religious beliefs for long periods of time.

Section 3: (Sum of items generates Ecumenism score)

_______1. I don't think it really matters what church (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) a person attends as long as they love and serve God.

_______2. There are valuable lessons to be learned from Christian faiths (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) that are different from my own.

_______3. I don't think one Christian faith (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) is any more correct when compared to the others.

_______4. Being a Christian is not about being a member of any one Christian faith (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God).

_______5. I don't believe God approves of any one Christian church or congregation (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) over another.

_______6. I think that the doctrinal differences between Christian churches and congregations (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) are largely irrelevant in God's eyes.

_______7. I feel that I could serve God being a member of many different kinds of Christian churches and congregations (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God).

_______8. To me, church affiliation (e.g. Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God) is an irrelevant issue in determining one's salvation.

Section 4: (Reverse score item 4, then sum of items generates Universality score)

_______1. I think the major world religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) are equally valid ways to seek God.

_______2. The major world religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) may take different paths, but each path ultimately leads to God.

_______3. Heaven is open to people of all world religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism).

_______4. I believe that Christianity is the only way to know God and receive salvation as opposed to other world religions (e.g. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism).

Section 5: (Sum of items generates Exploration score)

_______1. In my effort to seek after God I have spent a lot of time studying the teachings of religions around the world.

_______2. I have spent more time compared with most people I know investigating the foundations of my religious faith.

_______3. I consistently explore issues that will deepen my religious faith.

_______4. I would characterize my religious life as one of consistent searching and exploration.

_______5. I have been placing a lot of effort in exploring religious questions.

_______6. I would characterize most of my religious behavior as a "search for truth."

Section 6: (Sum of items generates Moralistic Interpretation score)

_______1. I feel that the spiritual meaning of Biblical stories are more important than their historical accuracy.

_______2. I feel that reading the Biblical stories in a literal way misses their deeper spiritual meaning.

_______3. I believe much of the truth of the Bible is primarily found in reading its stories allegorically.

_______4. A primarily literal reading of the Bible is an overly simplistic way of understanding the meaning of its stories.

_______5. A primarily literal reading of the Bible may miss its deeper truths.

_______6. A deep understanding of the Bible involves looking past the literal meaning to see the deeper spiritual truth being communicated.

Section 7: (Sum of items generates Religious Angst score)

_______1. My religious development has often been filled with doubt and has been troubling at times.

_______2. I have often felt lost and alone during my spiritual journey.

_______3. I have often felt abandoned by God during my spiritual journey.

_______4. My faith in God is accompanied by anxiety and doubt.

_______5. I would mostly describe my spiritual journey as a "struggle."

_______6. Although I feel joy and peace in my spiritual life, I also frequently experience feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Section 8: (Reverse score items 2 and 4, then sum of items generates Complexity score)

_______1. I would characterize my religious beliefs as very philosophical in nature.

_______2. I dislike very philosophical answers to my religious questions.

_______3. I feel like most religious questions involve complex answers that take a lifetime to fully understand.

_______4. I feel that most things in religion are clear and easy to understand.

_______5. I feel that it takes a lot of time and intensive study to even begin to have an informed opinion about religious issues.

_______6. It would be hard for me to express my religious views in a short amount of time due to the complexity of the arguments I would give.

_______7. I would characterize my religious beliefs as very complex rather than simple and straightforward.

_______8. I feel that most religious questions do not have simple, straightforward answers.

Section 9: (Sum of items generates Existential Motives score)

_______1. My religious journey has primarily been devoted toward finding a meaning or purpose for my life rather than engaging in traditional religious practices.

_______2. My religious questions have been primarily devoted to exploring my place in the universe rather than about religious doctrines and belief systems.

_______3. What seems to have primarily motivated my religious development is a search for meaning in a seemingly random universe.

_______4. My religious searching has been primarily devoted toward finding a meaning or purpose for my life rather than the traditional focus of developing a relationship with a personal God.

_______5. My religious journey has more abstract and philosophical than the more traditional religious efforts to develop a relationship with a personal God.
Table 1 Conceptual descriptions of Quest dimensions as assessed by the

Dimension of Quest: Conceptual description:

Tentativeness Emphasis on religious questions over definitive
 answers and the view that doubt is a positive
Change Openness to changing religious views over time and
 the continued scrutiny of currently held beliefs.
Ecumenism Acceptance of Christian faiths other than one's
Universality Acceptance of other world religions as equally
 valid ways of pursuing Truth/God.
Exploration Degree of effort exerted in exploring and examining
 religious teachings.
Moralistic Emphasizing the moral or spiritual meaning of
Interpretation Biblical texts over their historical or scientific
Religious Angst The degree of having experienced emotions of
 isolation, anxiety, doubt, and other negative
 emotions in one's religious journey.
Complexity Holding complex or philosophical views on religious
 matters versus simple and black & white views.
Existential Motives The degree to which the existential concerns of
 finding a purpose or meaning in life motivate
 religious behavior.

Table 2 Intercorrelations among MQOS subscales

 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

1. Tentativeness (.71)
2. Change .14 (.87)
3. Ecumenism .20** .09 (.90)
4. Universality -.01 .23** .25** (.87)
5. Exploration .02 .13 -.05 -.05 (.85)
6. Moralistic .16* .07 .16* .06 .04 (.81)
7. Religious .09 .37** .00 .13 .05 -.03 (.87)
8. Complexity .20** .31** .19* .23** .12 .27** .26**
9. Existential .00 .36** .14 .23** .15* .20** .23**

 8. 9.

1. Tentativeness
2. Change
3. Ecumenism
4. Universality
5. Exploration
6. Moralistic
7. Religious
8. Complexity (.68)
9. Existential .32** (.74)

*p < .05; **p [less than or equal to] .01
Note: Alpha coefficients for scales presented in parentheses along the

Table 3 Correlations between MQOS subscales and religious variables

 Religiosity measures:
 Intrinsic Extrinsic
MQOS subscales: Quest (1) Religiosity (2) Religiosity (2)

Tentativeness .36** .01 -.08
Change .51** -.37** .28**
Ecumenism .24** .02 -.12
Universality .18* -.46** .45**
Exploration .23** .29** -.12
Moralistic Interpretation .15 -.07 .08
Religious Angst .37** -.27** .22**
Complexity .39** -.25** .22**
Existential Motives .38** -.18* .34**

 Religiosity measures:
 Existential Religious
MQOS subscales: well-being (3) well-being (3) Orthodoxy (4)

Tentativeness -.06 .00 .08
Change -.32** -.37** -.33**
Ecumenism .00 .04 -.02
Universality -.22** -.35** -.39**
Exploration .09 .07 -.06
Moralistic Interpretation -.03 .01 -.06
Religious Angst -.47** -.40** -.14
Complexity -.21** -.28** -.31**
Existential Motives -.29** -.33** -.28**

*p < .05 **p [less than or equal to] .01
Note: (1) Batson's 12-item Quest scale; (2) Religious Orientation Scale;
(3) Spiritual Well-being scale; (4) Chrisitian Orthodoxy Scale

(1) As noted, we ran our factor analyses in two stages. First, analyses were run on individual subscales to verify unidimensionality. Second, analyses were run on subscale totals to verify subscale independence. We used this strategy because our sample size could not accommodate an item-level factor analysis of the MQOS. However, an item-level analysis was run as a cross check. This item-level analysis supported the conclusions of the reported factor analyses: The MQOS scales were relatively unidimensional and unique.


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Abilene Christian University


BECK, RICHARD. Address: ACU Box 28011, Abilene, TX, 79699. Title: Assistant Professor of Psychology. Degrees: BS, Christian Ministry, Abilene Christian University; MS, Clinical Psychology, Abilene Christian University; PhD, Experimental Psychology, Southern Methodist University. Specializations: Assessment and treatment of emotional disorders, Psychology of religion.

JESSUP, RYAN K. Degrees: BBA, Marketing, Abilene Christian University; MS (candidate), Psychology, Abilene Christian University.

Correspondence concerning this article may be sent to Richard Beck, PhD, ACU Box 28011, Abilene, TX, 79699. Email:
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Author:Jessup, Ryan K.
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Date:Dec 22, 2004
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