Measuring Spiritual Fitness: Atheist Military Personnel, Veterans, and Civilians

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This study investigated the impact of transcendent item phrasing (i.e., phrasing which assumes the respondent believes in certain sacred or supernatural concepts) on the validity of the U.S. Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program's spiritual fitness scale when administered to atheist military personnel, veterans, and civilians. Results indicated that the inclusion of transcendent phrasing led to reduced concurrent validity for the spiritual fitness scale when administered to atheist military personnel and veterans, reduced concurrent and predictive validity when administered to atheists' but not Christians' spiritual fitness. Notably, the removal of transcendent phrasing actually led to increased concurrent validity for Christian respondents. Taken together, these findings suggest the Revised scale, which is composed of items that do not rely on transcendent phrasing, produces better psychometric outcomes for both atheist and Christian respondents. Implications for the CSF program and the measurement of spiritual fitness are addressed.

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