Presentation at the George Mason School for Conflict Resolution and Analysis
April 2, 2013
The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: Uses for Inter-religious and Religious-secular Dialogue
The kinds of things that help to give life meaning, purpose, and satisfaction are often grounded in concepts we term religious or spiritual, a sense of the “more than” in daily life. This can be the case for those who find roots in religion as well as those not comfortable with religious language. Spiritual and religious attitudes and values help to shape: how people view the world, what they consider important, what they do, how they act, how they feel, identity and affinity, and also why they may mistrust or hate other people.
The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) is a set of 16 multiple-choice questions, psychometrically validated, which can be also be used in an open-ended way. It measures ordinary experiences of relationship with, and awareness of, the divine or transcendent. It measures experiences rather than beliefs, and the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. It has been used in over 150 published studies, linking it to many good outcomes for many kinds of people. Tens of thousands of people have taken the test, and it has been translated into over 30 languages. It has proven useful for most religions and in secular settings for those not comfortable with religion. The DSES is proving to be helpful for assessment, personal exploration, and communication in interpersonal, therapeutic, organizational settings.
This presentation and the subsequent extended discussion with faculty, students, and fellows, explored ways that the questions might be useful for communication between people of different beliefs, allowing them to share about things that are important in their daily lives. Exploring answers to the questions can allow people to connect with others about things that have value and meaning to them without coming up against the walls that discussion of beliefs can lead to. Common ground can be found in the depths of the discussion, even when beliefs differ. This can be helpful in the resolution of conflict, and building bridges in peacemaking process. DSES scores have also been linked to less burnout in practitioners of various kinds.