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Ordinary Spiritual Experience: Qualitative Research, Interpretive Guidelines, and Population Distribution for the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale

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The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) is an instrument designed to provide researchers with a self-report measure of spiritual experiences as an important aspect of how religiousness/spirituality is expressed in daily life for many people. The sixteen-item scale includes constructs such as awe, gratitude, mercy, sense of connection with the transcendent, compassionate love, and desire for closeness to God. It also includes measures of awareness of discernment/inspiration and transcendent sense of self. This measure was originally developed for use in health studies, but has been increasingly used more widely in the social sciences, for program evaluation, and for examining changes in religious/spiritual experiences over time. It has been included on the U. S. General Social Survey (GSS), and the items have shown high prevalence in that population. The challenge of identifying items that tap the underlying constructs was addressed through qualitative methods, both in the development and testing of the instrument. Translations have been made into Spanish, Korean, Hebrew, Vietnamese, and French, and the scale has been effectively used outside the United States. Detailed discussion of item construction based on qualitative work is given to assist in use, interpretation and translation development. Options for scoring and suggestions for exploring correlations with other variables using individual items and subgroups are also presented.

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