Perceived experiences of atheist discrimination: Instrument development and evaluation

Melanie E. Brewster, Joseph Hammer, Jacob S. Sawyer, Austin Eklund, Joseph Palamar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The present 2 studies describe the development and initial psychometric evaluation of a new instrument, the Measure of Atheist Discrimination Experiences (MADE), which may be used to examine the minority stress experiences of atheist people. Items were created from prior literature, revised by a panel of expert researchers, and assessed psychometrically. In Study 1 (N = 1,341 atheist-identified people), an exploratory factor analysis with 665 participants suggested the presence of 5 related dimensions of perceived discrimination. However, bifactor modeling via confirmatory factor analysis and model-based reliability estimates with data from the remaining 676 participants affirmed the presence of a strong "general" factor of discrimination and mixed to poor support for substantive subdimensions. In Study 2 (N = 1,057 atheist-identified people), another confirmatory factor analysis and model-based reliability estimates strongly supported the bifactor model from Study 1 (i.e., 1 strong "general" discrimination factor) and poor support for subdimensions. Across both studies, the MADE general factor score demonstrated evidence of good reliability (i.e., Cronbach's alphas of .94 and .95; omega hierarchical coefficients of .90 and .92), convergent validity (i.e., with stigma consciousness,β=.56; with awareness of public devaluation, β = .37), and preliminary evidence for concurrent validity (i.e., with loneliness β = .18; with psychological distress β = .27). Reliability and validity evidence for the MADE subscale scores was not sufficient to warrant future use of the subscales. Limitations and implications for future research and clinical work with atheist individuals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-570
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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