Evaluation and Revision of an Instrument Measuring Attitudes toward the Amish

Journal of Applied Social Science

Anderson, Cory, and Lee Decker. 2020.

14(2):195-211.

Research Points
  • Sociologist William McGuigan developed an Attitudes Toward the Amish (ATA) scale in the 2000s to measure prejudice. When the authors administered the ATA to residents in an Amish- populated region of northern Missouri and to students of a public liberal arts university, the ATA failed to capture expected differences in attitudes, suggesting limitations in operational validity.

  • Guided by respondent feedback, a literature review, and knowledge of the Amish, the authors revised the ATA scale (Revised Attitudes Toward the Amish [RATA]). Changes included eliminating blatant prejudice measures, using more positive framing, and ensuring factual accuracy.

  • The authors again administered the RATA to local residents and university students; 14 of 16 items showed significant differences between the surveyed populations, suggesting improved operational validity.

  • A factor analysis revealed 4 understandable components of attitudes among respondents: (a) pluralistic limits – Amish are acceptable as long as they do not infringe on each other’s freedom of choice, (b) judgments of Amish character as dishonest or unsavory, (c) viewing Amish as unfriendly or smothering their own people, and (d)
    viewing them as less intelligent. 

  • The RATA shows promise as an improved tool to measure the multifaceted nature of attitudes toward the Amish, but further testing is recommended to confirm its reliability and validity.

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