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This study investigated the relationship between outpatients' religious beliefs, as measured by the Religious Fundamentalism content scale (REL) of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), and their performance on standard MMPI validity and clinical scales, level of psychopathology, psychiatric diagnosis, religious orientation (intrinsic or extrinsic), and performance on a spiritual well-being scale. The sample consisted of 72 male and female client volunteers from two Portland, Oregon outpatient counseling settings. 47 clients were from one center and 25 were from the other center.

The following instruments were given: the MMPI, the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS), the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWB); and a demographic questionnaire. Data analysis was primarily correlational, with t-tests and multiple regression also utilized as appropriate.

REL was negatively correlated with the Ma scale and positively correlated with the K scale. No significant correlations were found between REL and the other standard MMPI validity and clinical scales. No significant relationships were found between outpatients' REL scores and their level of psychopathology or psychiatric diagnosis. REL scores were found to be positively correlated with the Intrinsic scale of the ROS, the Existential Well-Being scale of the SWB, and the Religious-Well Being scale of the SWB. REL scores were negatively correlated with the Extrinsic scale of the ROS. The demographic variables of "importance of religion", "frequency of attendance", and "Christian belief" had strong positive correlations with REL scores.

Additional REL criterion validity studies with a broad sample of populations are recommended. Developing new scales which quantify behavior consistent with a variety of formal religious belief systems, and then comparing them with the REL scale is suggested. Additionally, comparing REL scores with selected psychological constructs is recommended.

The results of this study suggest that religious belief, as measured by the REL scale, is not a relevant factor in the interpretation of standard clinical and validity scales of outpatients' MMPI profiles. Neither the view that religious beliefs are inherently pathological, nor the position that endorsing religious beliefs increases psychological functioning were empirically supported by this study.

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