Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis is an attempt to examine an operational definition (or measure) of nondoctrinal religion proposed by J. Milton linger in 1969. Yinger, in his 1969 publication, suggests that the majority of scientific studies of religion have been pursuing a less valuable course by assuming definitions of "religion" which restrict the concept to mere traditional forms of religion. Such definitions tend to prevent researchers from examining important and abundant structures which serve religious functions but dc not resemble traditional institutionalized religion in form. Such structures serve the function of dealing with chaos, the human situation, and ultimate concern. There is a need, says Yinger, for a more comprehensive definition of religion, one which suggests that religion is theoretically most important for what it does rather than for what form it takes. The thesis of linger's paper consists of preliminary development of such a comprehensive definition, along with the caution that his findings should be taken lightly and simply as an illustration of problems of measurement and a direction for further research. It is the purpose of this thesis to ask whether linger's assessment is as comprehensive as he would have the readers believe and whether efforts to refine linger's idea of a functional definition should not be redirected. Yinger (1969:89) implies that he is measuring "what is intrinsic to religion." He operationalizes his definition (p. 91) and develops a scale employing nondoctrinal statements of ultimate concern for assessment of religion in college students. A concept of ''intrinsic religion'1 was developed by Allport (1959) as a component of what has become known in the study of religious values as the intrinsic-extrinsic dimension. Since 19f>9 research has examined and refined this dimension of religiosity and found correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic religious values in other areas of the individual's attitudes, beliefs, and ideologies. Since the concept of intrinsic religion in this dimension has implications similar to those in linger's operational definition of religion, the writer of this thesis believes that assessment of linger1s concept by use of the intrinsic-extrinsic concept would prove useful in helping determine the social and motivational sources of the religious orientation measured by the Yinger index. Therefore, the question of greatest interest to the author of this thesis concerns what the Yinger index really measures. Chapter II of this thesis will discuss some of the previous research citing problems of defining religion, the development of the intrinsic-extrinsic concept, and the implications of the "proreligicn" factor (Allport and Ross, 1967). The possibility that social class is a correlate of the Yinger scale and the intrinsicextrinsic variable is also discussed. Chapter III sets forth the intentions of this vrriter to test the Yinger variable against social class, religious socialization, and the intrinsic-extrinsic concept. Reliability of the scales is discussed, and the sample and methods for this research are described. Findings which are of importance to this discussion are reported in tables. Chapter IV describes the findings in detail, and the implications of the findings of this research are discussed in Chapter V.


Religion | Sociology