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The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale, created by Dr. Lynn G. Underwood, is being used in research, organizational, and clinical settings, to investigate ordinary spiritual experiences, such as awe, deep inner peace, giving and receiving compassionate love, a sense of transcendent connection, and feeling thankful for blessings, and their role in daily life.

This is the central informational site regarding the scale to inform its use for clinicians and researchers. For registration and permission to use the scale or for further information, contact Lynn Underwood lynn[at]lynnunderwood.com The authoritative original version of the scale for research use can be downloaded here. A checklist version of the scale can be found here.

Registration is required to use the scale.

A book was published in 2013 enabling the scale to be available for professional and personal use: Spiritual Connection in Daily Life (2013) It contains useful information for researchers too as it contains details of interviews with people about their experiences as well as research summaries with citations. A link to the book and ways to purchase it can be found here. The book was designed primarily for use in personal and professional settings, and to enable the questions to be used as a communication tool. It was published as an e-book and then subsequently as an international e-book in 2016.

This book has recently been revised and issued as an audiobook, read by Lynn (2020). The link to directly purchase the new audiobook (2020) is here: //payhip.com/b/c4jv  The audiobook purchase includes a PDF which can serve as a journal for you to write about your experiences and a bibliography of the research studies and other references. The audiobook has significant changes from the print and e-book editions, re-ordered to prioritize personal exploration and communication in personal and professional settings, with the quantitative version and research results added in the appendices. Other ways to purchase the audiobook can be found here .

A research guide to supplement Spiritual Connection in Daily Life is currently in press: Underwood, Lynn G, Using the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale in Research and Practice (August 2019 Preprint) Applelane Press. To download the preprint click here: DSES Guidebook_20190927 PreprintLynnUnderwood  It is designed for researchers and practitioners, and includes additional detailed information on various ways of using and scoring the DSES and an annotated bibliography of a selection of 80 of the published studies that show the relationship of DSEs to: resiliency, stress buffering, less substance abuse and addictions, a greater sense of meaning and post-traumatic growth, more positive health behaviors, more prosocial attitudes, and diminished burnout and compassion fatigue. This guidebook also summarizes the studies that describe interventions that increase frequency of DSEs and time course in terms of causation, such as the results from longitudinal and smartphone studies. One reason to group all of these studies together is to inform the development of preventative and intervention resources that can be used for many different kinds of people. Although much is already available on scoring, psychometrics, versions and translations in the articles already published by Underwood, this new publication includes updated and more detailed information on usage, scoring, and versions. A recent chapter in a French textbook includes some of the contents of this.

Lynn was interviewed on the DSES and the book for the Australian ABC public radio program, The Spirit of Things. This is available as a podcast on iTunes. To listen to or download the program: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/spiritofthings/are-you-spiritually-connected/8376242

 


Key Underwood articles on the DSES

“The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: Overview and Results,” provides an overview of the scale itself, describes why it has proven useful. The article cites major studies and discusses a number of the key studies using the scale. Religions 2:1 (2011), 29-50. It is the best article to start with.

“Ordinary Spiritual Experience: Qualitative Research, Interpretive Guidelines, and Population Distribution for the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale,” is designed to help scholars understand, use and score the DSES. Archive for the Psychology of Religion/Archiv für Religionspsychologie, 28:1 (2006), 181-218. This article, linked here, underwood archiv article 2006 copy, provides the conceptual framework for the DSES, provides scoring guidelines, and includes accurate English and Spanish versions of the scale.

“The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: Development, Theoretical Description, Reliability, Exploratory Factor Analysis, and Preliminary Construct Validity Using Health-Related Data”, Underwood, LG, and Teresi, JA, Annals of Behavioral Medicine 24:1 (2002), 22-33. This article describes psychometric qualities of the scale and some of its applications. J Teresi’s role in this paper was as the statistician. This paper has been cited over 1000 times in peer-reviewed literature.

Currently in press is a Chapter for a French textbook on Spirituality and Psychology. The reference for this is: “Ordinary Spiritual Experiences: Positive Effects on Resilience, Burnout, and Addictions” Underwood LG & Vagnini K, in Spirituality and Psychology Foundations, Concepts and Applications” (in French). Dunod 2021.

Introduction to the DSES:

The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) is a 16-item self-report measure designed to assess ordinary experiences of connection with the transcendent in daily life. It includes constructs such as awe, gratitude, mercy, sense of connection with the transcendent and compassionate love. It also includes measures of awareness of discernment/inspiration and a sense of deep inner peace.

Originally developed for use in health studies, it has been increasingly used more widely in the social sciences, for program evaluation, and for examining changes in spiritual experiences over time. Also it has been used in counseling, addiction treatment settings, and religious organizations. It has been included in longitudinal health studies and in the U.S. General Social Survey that established random-sample population norms for the scale. It has publications on its psychometric validity in many languages and the scale has been effectively used in many cultures. The scale has been used in over 400 published studies and the original paper has been cited in over 1200 published papers.

The DSES was developed using extensive qualitative testing in a variety of groups, which has helped its capacity to be useful in a variety of settings. It was constructed to reflect an overlapping circle model of spirituality/religiousness and contains items that are more specifically theistic in nature, as well as items to tap the spiritual experience of those who are not comfortable with theistic language.

There are two major forms of the frequency scale currently in use. One is the full 16-item scale. The second is a 6-item scale that was adapted for use in the Brief Multidimensional Measure for Religiousness and Spirituality (Idler et al, 2003). The six items are not ideal in many ways, as the wording is not exactly identical and some items are double-barreled. Of these two, the 16-item scale is much preferred, although in many studies the two scales show a high correlation in performance.

Also, various researchers have used subsets of the 16-item scale for various purposes. At this stage in the scale’s development this can be appropriate, as long as the rationale is sound. Two of the items, selfless caring and accepting others, for example, have been used as a compassionate love subscale, and there are other possible subgroupings of items.

Factor analysis of the scale continues as research results emerge. Most studies show the scale loading on one major factor, although different populations can show different factor loadings. The Cronbach’s Alpha for the scale is usually above 0.9. The scale performs in both a state-like as well as a trait-like manner, lending it to examinations of change over time.

Some have changed the wording of the scale items substantively and call their versions a scale of Daily Spiritual Experiences. Be cautious regarding this. The wording of this scale is critical to its effectiveness and ability to tap the construct of interest. Changes in wording can strongly affect performance. Contact the author if you have questions.

The scale has been used effectively in adolescents. It has also been used in younger children from 8-12, and for this group, subgroups of the items can be used, or oral administration with some explanation of the items may be helpful.

For more information on the checklist version and an open-ended version see the book and the publications website.

Translations

There have been over 40 translations. Translation needs to be done carefully as subtlety and simplicity of language is particularly important and cultural sensitivity is needed. See Underwood (2006) for further advice on translating. Lynn is coordinating information on translations and assists with back translations to assure accurate articulation of the underlying construct. Please contact Dr. Underwood regarding usage and translations.The DSES has been translated into Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Filipino, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Nepalese, Persian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese. Other translations still in development include: Nigerian, Burmese, Albanian, Bangla, Swahili, and Zuni Pueblo. Papers have been published on the psychometric validation of translations of the full 16-item DSES in Mandarin Chinese (Ng, Fong, Tsui, Au-Yeung, & Law, 2009), Indonesian (Qomaruddin & Indawati, 2019), Czech (Maliňáková et al., 2018), Slovak (Soósová & Mauer, 2020), Hindi (Husain & Singh, 2016), German (Schmidt, 2010), Spanish (Mayoral, Underwood, Laca, & Mejía, 2014; Sierra Matamoros, Sánchez Pedraza, & Ibáñez Antequera, 2013), Portugese (Kimura, Oliveira, Mishima, & Underwood, 2012), and a number of other languages. Psychometric evaluations of translations have also often been done when using the translations in studies themselves.