Roger Finke, Prof.
This project accepts Sir John Templeton's challenge to discover "new spiritual information." We propose to assemble and evaluate past measures of spirituality, create and test new measures, and disseminate the findings of our discoveries through multiple channels. Our first step in this discovery process is to learn from past and current measures. Relying heavily on theARDA.com, we will build a massive relational database of carefully tagged spirituality measures. Supported with customized software, and tentatively titled the Measurement Wizard, this new resource will allow us to systematically explore how differences in survey design, sampling, question wording and response categories impact answers to questions about religion and spirituality. We will also develop, test, and implement new spiritual measures, giving priority to topics that address Templeton core themes, are significant substantive issues, and are central to key theoretical or substantive debates. The ARDA's Question Lab allows us to pretest the new questions at a low cost and to use quasi-experimental designs to scientifically test alternative question wordings or response categories. Working with research partners, we will place the new items on surveys across the globe. Finally, we will explore new and underutilized methodologies for discovering spiritual information. We will explore computer simulations for explaining religious conversion and introduce new methodologies for discovering new spiritual information from internet content, links, and networks. The discoveries we make from this project will be disseminated to scholars in a book tentatively titled Faithful Measures and to a more general audience through the ARDA's online tools and Ahead of the Trend column. Indeed, long after the project has been completed, the Measurement Wizard will remain on the ARDA and will continue to promote the discovery of new spiritual information.