Measuring Spirituality Among Adolescents & Emerging Adults

Research Study

Measuring Spirituality Among Adolescents and Emerging Adults

Project Dates

January 2017—Present

Research Team

Pamela Ebstyne King, Project Leader

Susan Mangan, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Abbey Craigg, Student Researcher

Funded By

The Thrive Center for Human Development

Project Overview

From a relational developmental systems meta-theoretical perspective, human development occurs through the ongoing interactions between a person and the many different environments or systems in which they live. Spiritual development is no exception. 

The Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS) Scale was developed in order to measure a young person’s experience of their understanding of transcendence and their response attitudinal and behavioral response to it. From this perspective, spirituality is not just a feeling or experience of something beyond the self, but spirituality involves one’s process of making meaning, informing one’s sense of self and their worldviews, and motivates actions and behaviors that are aligned with their spiritual ideals

Specifically, the MDAS is comprised of three subscales, including Transcendence, Fidelity, and Action. Although the MDAS was developed as a multidimensional measure of adolescent spirituality for use with diverse youth, including those who self-identify as spiritual outside of a religious tradition, it has been used mostly in Christian populations in the U.S., Mexico, El Salvador, and Rwanda1.

While there are many different measures that examine spirituality, the MDAS is particularly well-suited to assess spirituality in an emerging population because of the developmental tasks that emerging adults engage in. In a previous study, we found that a highly religious emerging adult population endorsed themes of Transcendence– Sacred, Transcendence– Other, Self-Awareness and Contribution2. In this current study, we will test the psychological viability of the MDAS in a diverse emerging adult population.

For any questions regarding the items and modification process for contextualizing the MDAS for culturally and spiritually diverse samples, please contact Dr. Pamela King at


1. King, P.E., Yoo, Y., & Vaughn, J.M.* (in press). Under construction: Refined findings of the Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS) among Latino youth in Mexico and El Salvador. In K. Harris, A. Ai., & P. Wink (Eds.), Assessing spirituality and religion in a diversified world. New York: Springer Press.

2. Craigg, A. L. (2019). A factor analysis of the Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality in emerging adults. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Fuller Theological Seminary School of Psychology, Pasadena, CA.

Related Publications

MDAS & Refined Findings from Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test the MDAS scale across 2 samples, and share implications for future research.

Evaluating the MDAS in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team apply the MDAS to indicate the extent to which spirituality was integrated into the lives of youth.

Measuring Spirituality, Hope & Thriving Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team compare youth enrolled in CI to youth not enrolled in CI, examining spirituality, hope, and PYD.

Preliminary Exploration of the MDAS Among Mexican Youth

Scholars propose a preliminary measure and framework to better understand spirituality in diverse youth.