Existential Conviction Scale (ECS) Questionnaire

Instructions to subjects

Please mark the line to indicate how strongly you agree with the statement.

Place your mark over to the left if you agree very strongly, over to the right if you do not agree at all, or anywhere in between to indicate how strongly you agree with the statement.

If you are unhappy using the word ‘God’, please describe an alternative you would prefer to use (this applies to all questions that mention God).

* * *

1) My life has a spiritual dimension

2) I am a religious person

3) My life is guided purely by science and logic

4) Religion is an important part of my life

5) I believe in God

6) I am a rationalist

7) I believe that God loves me

8) I believe that whatever happens is part of a divine plan

9) I believe in an afterlife/ life after death

10) I believe that there is nothing more to life than the here and now

11) God gives meaning to my life

* * *

Notes for Investigators

The above statements should be printed above a line with a bar marking the halfway point. The Left extreme is marked with Strongly Agree and the Right extreme is marked with Strongly Disagree. (ie. this questionnaire is a type of ‘Likert Scale’).

Measurements are done with a ruler and rounded to one decimal point.

Marking scheme

The ECS yields two measures.

1. A measure of religiosity from zero-highest (0 = atheist, highest = theist)

2. A measure of existential conviction zero-highest (0 = existentially uncertain, highest = existentially certain.

1. Religiosity

The scale is measured from left to right – extreme left is zero and extreme right is highest. Religiosity (zero-highest) is measured by the mean average of scores with a score of 0 for a convinced atheist and highest score for an extreme theist.

Subjects who – on average - strongly agree with statements 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and who strongly disagree with statements 3,6,10 would be classified as religious or ‘theistic’ (and those who strongly disagree with statements 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and who strongly agree with statements 3,6,10 would be classified as atheists). The intermediate subjects are classified as ‘existentially uncertain’.

2. Existential conviction

Existential conviction (zero-highest) is derived from measuring the distance from the centre of the scale to the mark made by the subject. Strong views (whether theistic or atheistic in nature) have greater divergence and higher scores; while existential uncertainty is defined by lower distance from the centre and scores nearer to zero.


The ECS scale may freely be used without any need for further permission. Please cite the scale as follows: Riley J, Best S, Charlton BG. (2005). The Existential Conviction Scale (ECS). Then give the web address and date accessed.



also by Bruce Charlton
The Malaise Theory of Depression
Public Health and Personal Freedom
Psychiatry and the Human Condition
Pharmacology and Personal Fulfillment
Awareness, Consciousness and Language
Injustice, Inequality and Evolutionary Psychology
Peak Experiences, Creativity and the Colonel Flastratus Phenomenon