Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version

In The Open and Closed Mind , published in 1960 (Basic Books), the psychologist Milton Rokeach developed the Dogmatism Scale. Its purpose is to "measure individual differences in openness or closedness of belief systems." The development of the scale is set within a more broadly based theoretical argument that suggests the Dogmatism Scale is useful in identifying "general authoritarianism and general intolerance."

The scale comprises 66 items, to which respondents are asked to quantify their level of agreement or disagreement, ranging from +3 (I agree very much) to -3 (I disagree very much). Intermediate opinions are expressed by agreeing or disagreeing "on the whole" (+2) or "a little" (+1).

Categories within the Dogmatism Scale identify openness or closedness of belief systems across several continua. These include the following:

• isolation between belief and disbelief systems

• degrees of differentiation of belief and disbelief systems

• specific content of primitive belief

• formal content of intermediate belief

• interrelations among primitive, intermediate, and peripheral beliefs

• attitudes toward the past, present, and future

Research using this scale (by Rokeach and others) suggests that Catholics are more dogmatic than other religious groups (except in the American South), and that dogmatism emerges in specific religious groups because dogmatic attitudes carry social rewards in those groups.

Jerry Koch

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