Development of a measure of religious mistrust in Northern Ireland

Kareena McAloney, Maurice Stringer, John Mallett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Background: Cultural mistrust is the distrust and suspicion of ethnic majority individuals by minority group members in order to protect themselves when risk of victimization from discrimination and prejudice is high. In Northern Ireland both Catholics and Protestants may be described as minority and majority group members, depending on the environment or situation they are in. As a result both Catholics and Protestants may perceive themselves to be at risk of discrimination, and may subsequently use similar protective strategies.

Aims: To examine the suitability of an adapted version of the Cultural Mistrust Inventory for the assessment of mistrust among Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, and to explore the relationships between religious mistrust and socio-demographic characteristics.

Method: 157 undergraduate students completed a 33-item adapted version of the cultural mistrust inventory, and an exploratory factor analysis conducted. A further 251 undergraduate students completed the 11-item religious mistrust measure developed and a confirmatory factor analysis performed on the collected data.

Results: An 11-item, three-factor measure of religious mistrust was identified through exploratory factor analysis. The factor structure of the measure was supported, with some modification, by acceptable model fit statistics at the confirmatory factor analysis stage. Religious mistrust appears to be experienced by both Catholics and Protestants; regardless of group status, however males and the unemployed reported significantly higher levels of mistrust of the ‘other’ group.

Conclusions: Religious mistrust appears to be an important area in intergroup relations in Northern Ireland. The 11-item measure reported in this study is proposed as a first step to a fuller examination of mistrust among Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNorthern Ireland Branch Annual Conference Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • religious mistrust
  • Northern Ireland
  • assessment


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