Measuring Religious Attitudes in Secularized Western European Context: A Psychometric Analysis of the Post-Critical Belief Scale

Karolina Krysinska, Kim De Roover, Jan Bouwens, Eva Ceulemans, Jozef Corveleyn, Jessie Dezutter, Bart Duriez, Dirk Hutsebaut, Didier Pollefeyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Wulff's two-dimensional model of approaches to religion was an inspiration for the development of the Post-Critical Belief Scale (PCBS), an instrument measuring religious attitudes, that is, “paradigms of religious belief structure” in a secularized Western European context. The scale has been frequently used in psychological studies, has undergone psychometric analyses and modifications, and has been translated into several languages. The current study shows results of a psychometric analysis of the component structure of PCBS in different age groups over time using Clusterwise Simultaneous Component Analysis-Equal Cross-Product (SCA-ECP). The analysis was based on samples collected in Flanders (Belgium; N = 14,599). The one-cluster and two-cluster models yielded three components: Literal Affirmation, Literal Disaffirmation, and Symbolic Attitude, and there were no differences between age groups. In the two-cluster model, subtle differences between samples collected before and after 2002 were found, and these were related to two PCBS items referring to interpretation of Biblical stories. Our finding of a generalized Symbolic Attitude might be related to the changes in the approaches to religion in secularized Western Europe, and might capture the religious (dis-)belief of individuals who are open and tolerant to other religious systems, or alternatively, have become indifferent to them. Further cross-cultural and longitudinal studies are needed to better understand the religious attitudes in a secularized context, and the development of a new scale based on the paradigm of personal meaning systems is suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-281
JournalInternational Journal for The Psychology of Religion
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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