Psychiatry and Mental Health-Sci Forschen

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Which Self-Actualization Associates with Language and School Achievement: Monotheistic or Polytheistic?

  Ebrahim Khodadady1*       Beheshteh Shakhsi Dastgahian2   

1Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran
2Bureau of Education, Mashhad, Iran

*Corresponding author: Ebrahim Khodadady, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, E-mail:


Introduction: The Quranic Orientation Scale (QOS) is the only measure of practicing monotheistic self actualization which enjoys content validity because of being developed on a Holy Scripture. No study has, however, explored its association with language achievement.

Methods: One hundred forty seven female 16 to 19 (mean=17.43, SD=0.536) years old Grade 4 Senior High School (G4SHS) students participated in this study. They took a close schema-based multiple choice item test (S-Test) developed on the English course book they studied as part of their curriculum. Their scores on the S-Test were correlated with their responses on the QOS.

Results: The S-Test correlated significantly with the QOS (r=.17, p<.05) and its two out of seven underlying factors called believing in Holy Scriptures (r=.19, p<.05) and fulfilling Quranic obligations (r=.19, p<.05).

Conclusions: Through fulfilling Quranic obligations and believing in Holy Scriptures as two hierarchically organized taxa of self-actualization G4SHS students not only actualize their self as practicing monotheists but also become successful learners of the English language.


Psychiatry; Psychology; Divine and Humanistic religion; Schema theory; Self-actualization; Taxonomy


When sapiens create, store or activate the word type selfactualization in the spoken or written texts they compose or read, it represents a unique image or concept in their mind known as schema [1]. According to Itai I [2], it was Goldstein K [3], for example, who coined self-actualization as a schema for the first time to address his variables of interest in psychiatry. The concept Goldstein K [3] created in his own as well as his readers’ minds is, however, different from that of Itai I [2]. The difference can be traced not only in the two fields of psychiatry and psychology but also in the authorities followed in these fields. While the former related it to biology and treated sapiens as organisms placed at the base of Linnaeus C’s [4] taxonomy the latter believed in humanistic psychology and treated sapiens as individuals bound by Maslow AH [5] needs.

Goldstein K [3], for example, defined self-actualization as “the ultimate goal of all organisms” [6] and tried to approach sapiens as scientifically as biologists such as Linnaeus C [4] did with all organisms. Following Linnaeus C, Goldstein K, believed that only the morphology or physiology of sapiens provided the most objective means to explain their self-actualization. Khodadady E, et al. [7,8], however, resorted to the Macro Structural Approach of Schema Theory (MACAST) to show that sapiens’ physiology, i.e., the main objective feature of taxonomy, can never lead to self-actualization without developing its species-specific psyche through divine religion.

Maslow AH [5] established himself as a leading self-theistic authority in taxonomy when he replaced Linnaeus C [4] physiological taxa with his own need-based or motivational taxa. Itai I [2] did, therefore, follow Maslow AH [5] because Maslow’s definition of selfactualization as “one’s desire to become more and more what he or she is” (pp. 390-392) suited his job most. The application of Khodadady E [1] Microstructural Approach of Schema Theory (MICAST) to the analysis of self-actualization, however, challenged not only purely biological but also purely need-based taxonomies. By subjecting the representative texts of biology, psychiatry, psychology and religion to the MICAST, Khodadady E, et al. [7,8], for example, argued that Linnaeus C’s [4] taxonomy is not only biological but also cognitive.

Linnaeus C’s [4] taxonomy is cognitive because he places humans in his lowest taxon of species for being wise [9]. Furthermore, each of Linnaeus’ higher taxa of sapiens differs from its preceding lower taxa when it broadens its cognitive scope table 1. The family of hominidae, for example, is higher than the species of sapiens because it includes not only humans as wise beings but also chimpanzees. Biologically, both sapiens and chimpanzees have a cerebrum which “is much increased relative to other brain structures” [10]. Cognitively, chimpanzees communicate appropriately with their intended audience as sapiens do [11,12].

No Cognitive
Biological schemata Constituting features
1 Domain Organisms humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, bats, frogs, birds, plants, bacteria
2 Kingdom Animals humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, bats, frogs, birds
3 Phylum Vertebrates humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, bats, frogs
4 Class Mammals humans, chimpanzees, monkeys, bats
5 Order Primates humans, chimpanzees, monkeys
6 Family Hominidae humans, chimpanzees
7 Genus Homo sapiens humans, Neanderthal (extinct)
8 Species Sapiens wise things or humans

Table 1: Cognitive taxa represented by biological schemata and their constituting features.
Adapted from “Which self represents sapiens? Biological, psychiatric, psychological or religious?” by Khodadady E, et al. [7].

As shown in table 1 below, Goldstein K [3] followed the MACAST by asserting indirectly that all organisms do have a self capable of actualizing it as their ultimate goal of life. So doing he followed Freud who “was determined to anchor his psychological theory in biology”. Goldstein K’s [3] adoption of Freud as an undisputed selftheistic authority is, however, questionable because “His choice led to terminological and conceptual difficulties when he used terms derived from biology to denote psychological constructs” [13].

Khodadady E, et al. [8] findings, however, showed although sapiens are organisms from a biological perspective, i.e., being alive, having body, instincts and cognition and emotion, they differ from all other organisms in having psyche, i.e. the main schema upon which sapiens founded psychiatry and psychology.

The present authors argue that all scholars who view psyche from the perspective of humanistic psychology and follow sapiens such as Goldstein K [3] and Maslow AH [5] will face terminological and conceptual difficulties because no field explains psyche as best as divine religion does. Although Maslow AH [5] accepted religion as a field through which some sapiens-specific schemata, the plural of schema, could be explained he opposed religion implicitly. According to Williams EIF [14], Maslow AH [15] main motive was, for example, to oppose “the followers of those prophets who claimed direct revelation from God, and the nineteenth-century scientists who denied not only direct revelation but God himself, … [Maslow] … declares that these revelations were …‘peak-experiences’ which are characteristic not only of specially ordained emissaries of God but of mankind in general”.

Maslow AH [15] opposed divine religion implicitly by equating the subjective term peak-experiences with the objective revelation and then claiming that all sapiens in general and self-actualizers in particular can have ‘peak-experiences’. He deliberately ignored the fact that the so-called self-actualizers such as Freud S [16] abused drugs like cocaine to have ‘peak-experiences’. The emissaries such as the prophet Muhammad were, however, chosen by God to receive revelations for speaking and upholding the truth. Muhammad, for example, opposed infanticide practiced by many parents of his time and warned them of their being judged and punished by God. He recited the Quran (Q) revealing that on the Day of Judgment “when the selves are coupled and when the female infant buried alive is asked for what sin she was slain”.

Maslow achieved his self-theistic objective by replacing the divine revelation with the vague term ‘peak-experiences’ in two phases. In the first phase he claimed that all sapiens as selves could have ‘peakexperiences’ without being in contact with God. In the second phase he confined self-actualizers to just “1 percent or less of the population” [17]. The majority of these few self-actualizers had resorted to false means such as abusing drugs rather than truth to have ‘peakexperiences’. Realizing the falsity of such means Maslow AH [15] did, therefore, warn that “drugs, which can be helpful when wisely used, become dangerous when foolishly used”. In contrast to Maslow AH [15], divine religion contends that all sapiens do actualize their self either falsely through irreligious means such as drug abuse or truly through justice. It also warns that although drugs have few benefits they should not be abused for actualizing practicing monotheism.

In addition to confining self-actualization to few elite sapiens, Maslow AH [18,19] narrowed it cognitively from the domain of organisms to the species of sapiens in Linnaeus C’s [4] taxonomy. Then by replacing the schema sapiens with self Maslow AH [18] popularized and characterized the self through few of its biographical actualizers. They allowed him not only to dispense with the species-specific feature of psyche in sapiens but also to usurp its highest taxon of domain for himself as a self-theistic authority. Finally, Maslow AH [18] narrowed the domain of self to the kingdom of need for self-actualization, phylum of esteem needs, class of belongingness and love needs, order of safety needs and family of physiological needs. Although Maslow AH [19] taxonomy brought about a renewed interest in ‘sapiens’ needs, it fell short of providing an operational framework to address and measure its self-actualization objectively.

Maslow AH [19] himself could not, for example, develop any scales to measure self-actualization. He did, however, approve Shostrom EL [20,21] 150-item Personal Orientation Inventory (POI) as its valid measure. To the present authors’ best knowledge though no study has established any criterion-related validity for the POI. For this very reason they analyzed the 15-item four choice Short Index of Self-Actualization (SISA) in this study because it has “significant positive correlations with the POI (r=67, p ≤ .001; r=65 for the I [Inner Direction] scale and .51 for the Tc [Time Competence] scale, both p ≤ .001)” [22]. The SISA also enjoys acceptable construct validity and reliability due to its five underlying factors, and the alpha coefficient of .65. And finally, its criterion-related validity has been explored through its association with the English language and schools achievement.

Rastegar M, et al. [23], for example, administered the SISA to 77 students in a high school for gifted students aged between 15 and 17 in Iran. They correlated the SISA as a measure of students’ selfactualization with their English language and school achievement measured by their English scores gained at the end of school year and their Grade Point Averages (GPAs), respectively. The SISA showed, however, significant relationship neither with English (r=16, ns) nor with school (r=.01, ns) achievement, indicating that Maslow AH’s [19] self-actualization has no “criterion-related validity” [24].

In contrast to Maslow AH’s [19] non-operational and invalid needbased self-actualization, the psychologist Allport GW [25] studied sapiens in terms of their “rich variety of individual motivation” [26] maintaining that “personality is governed not only by the impact of stimuli upon a slender endowment of drives common to the species. Its process of becoming is governed, as well, by a disposition to realize its possibilities, i.e. to become characteristically human at all stages of development. And of the capacities most urgent is individuation, the formation of an individual style of life that is self-aware, self-critical, and self-enhancing” [25].

Having employed humanistic religious orientation interchangeably with motivation Allport GW, et al. [27] placed their own selves in the taxon of domain and assigned 309 Americans following various schools of Christianity as the representative of all selves who occupy the intrinsic kingdom and extrinsic phylum of the domain. They then operationally defined the two intrinsic and extrinsic taxa within the taxon of family through 20 items and 144 word types representing the taxa of genus and species of the selves living in and outside America, respectively. Allport GW, et al. [27] maintains that through these genera and species intrinsic and extrinsic selves can be distinguished from each other objectively.

In order to find out whether they could follow Allport GW, et al. [27] as an authority on self Brewczynski J, et al. [28] added Feagin JR [29] extrinsic item representing the genus of “one reason for my being a church member is that such membership helps to establish a person in the community” to Allport GW, et al. [27] 20 items, translated them into Polish and administered the 21-item ROS to 303 Polish university students who followed the Catholic school of Christianity. When Brewczynski J, et al. [28] applied confirmatory factor analysis to their data, they found that instead of 144 word types, 20 items and two intrinsic and extrinsic factors representing the species, genus and family of American self, respectively, the self of Polish students comprised 97 word types, 12 items, and three factors representing the intrinsic kingdom, personal extrinsic phylum, and social extrinsic class of Polish self.

Following Brewczynski J, et al. [28] Khodadady E, et al. [30] translated the 21-item ROS into Persian and replaced Christian word types representing the schemata like church with its Islamic equivalent mosque and administered it to 329 Iranian university students to find out whether Ghorbani N, et al. [31] were justified in following Allport GW, et al. [27] and assigning all Iranian Muslim students to either intrinsic or extrinsic selves. (Based on the suggestion of Watson (personal communication, Nov. 28, 2017), the first of Ghorbani’s three coauthors, the authors of this article contacted Ghorbani to obtain and analyze his Persian translation of Allport, et al. [27] 20-item ROS. Their frequent correspondences did not, however, bear any fruit. Ghorbani N, et al. [31] secretary did though provide the author with the translation of another scale instead.

Khodadady E, et al. [30] subjected the Iranian Muslim students’ responses on the 21-item ROS to principal factor analysis (PFA) and rotated the extracted factors with Varimax with Kaiser Normalization (VKN). In contrast to Americans and Polish students assigned to two and three taxa of self by Allport GW, et al. [27] and Brewczynski J, et al. [28], respectively. Khodadady, et al. [30] findings showed that Iranian students subscribed to a family of four factors representing the intrinsic, intrinsic-pacific, extrinsic and concessional selves. In addition to differing in the number of factors, the American, Polish and Iranian students differed from each other in the number of the items, i.e., 21, 12, and 20, and word types, i.e., 161, 97 and 15, constituting the ROS, respectively (Table 2).

Cognitive taxa Psychiatry Allport and Ross (1967) Feagin (1964) Brewczynski and MacDonald’s (2006) Khodadady and Golparvar (2011)
Domain Winnicott (1960) Allport, Ross and Feagin Allport, Ross and Feagin Allport, Ross and Feagin
Kingdom true self Intrinsic intrinsic intrinsic
Phylum false self Extrinsic personal extrinsic intrinsic-pacific
Class social extrinsic Extrinsic concessional
Order mind/behaviour
Family cognition and emotion 2 factors 3 factors 4 factors
Genus instincts 21 items 12 items 20 items
Species Body 161 word types 97 word types 150 word types

Table 2: Hierarchical taxa of “self” in psychiatry and psychology.

Brewczynski J, et al. [28] and Khodadady E, et al. [30] findings did thus show that the 21-item ROS addresses different polytheistic selves for three reasons. First, the constituting word types representing the schema self change from country to country, i.e., 161, 97 and 150 for churchgoing Americans of various denominations, Polish Catholic Christians, and Iranian twelver Shiites, respectively. (The twelver Shiites accept only 12 imams to lead Muslims. As his successor the prophet Muhammad appointed the first Imam who in turn appointed his own successor). Secondly, similar to word types, the number of items representing the genus of self differs from 21 to 12 and 20 for American, Polish and Iranian students, respectively. And finally 2, 3 and 4 factors represent American and Polish and Iranian students’ family of self, respectively.

The item “The prayers I say when I am alone carry as much meaning and personal emotion as those said by me in the presence of people”, for example, contributes to the intrinsic factor of Allport AW, et al. [27] American Christians. It does, however, contribute neither to the three nor to the four factors extracted from the 12-Item and 20-item did ROSs validate by Brewczynski J, et al. [28] and Khodadady E, et al. [30] with Polish Christians and Iranian Muslims, respectively. While Brewczynski J, et al. [28] attributed the difference among American and Polish students’ self-actualization to culture, the present researchers attribute it to three reasons: replacing God with the human designers of Self-Actualization Scales (SASs), the unfamiliarity of the SAS designers and takers with psyche as defined by divine religion and the unfamiliarity of the SASs designers and takers with the self in divine religion.

Psychiatrists such as Winnicott DW [32], psychologists such as Maslow AH [15] and Allport GW, et al. [27] and theologians such as Azarbaijani M [33] have adopted God’s role as self-theists in the name of “humanistic psychology movement” [25]. Allport GW, et al. [27] for example, tell sapiens that their self consist of five taxa: the intrinsic kingdom, extrinsic phylum, 2-factor family, 21-item genus, and 161- word type species. By attending churches they can choose to actualize their self either intrinsically or extrinsically. In order to validate their MACAST-based claim Allport GW, et al. [27] quoted a theologian as an authority saying, “Some people come to church to thank God, to acknowledge His glory, and to ask His guidance. Others come for what they can get. Their interest in the church is to run it or exploit it rather than to serve it”.

Sapiens also differ from each other in their selves because the psychiatrists, psychologists and theologians have deliberately changed psyche from “soul” [34] to “spirit” [35] “mind” [36] and “behaviour” [13]. Divine religion challenges these meanings by announcing psyche to be a unique constant of God “breathed [only] into sapiens”. Sapiens’ possession of God’s psyche distinguishes them from other organisms and allows them to be God’s vicegerents on the earth and gain the mastery and control of all inanimate and animate materials in this world to actualize their self.

In addition to specifying the divine nature of psyche, religion sets it as the most distinct taxon of self with which all sapiens actualize their self within the class of self-theists, phylum of polytheists, or kingdom of practicing monotheists table 3. Religion also declares that the family of cognition and emotion and the genus of instincts are set within the species of body so that they can actualize their self as selftheists, polytheists or practicing monotheists. Upon actualizing their self at an appointed time in this world death separates the actualized self from the worldly life. They enter the barzakh waiting for the day of resurrection to be paid for the taxon in which they have reached self-actualization.

No Cognitive taxa Divine religion
1 Domain God
2 Kingdom practicing monotheist
3 Phylum polytheist
4 Class self-theist
5 Order psyche
6 Family cognition and emotion
7 Genus instincts
8 Species body
9 Word existence

Table 3: Hierarchical taxa of “self” in divine religion.

Becoming a self-theist, or ascribing partners to God and following them along with Him, i.e., polytheism, explains the last reason for the difference found in the number of factors specifying the self taxa sapiens create for themselves in various countries. Both the designers and takers of the SASs adapt religion to their own personal objectives. Khodadady E, et al. [37,38], for example, went through the feedbacks provided by Muslim university students in Khodadady E, et al. [30] study and interviewed a number of the pilgrims visiting the Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. The students and pilgrims believed that the 20-item ROS validated with their responses needed to be revised and enlarged. Based on their input Khodadady E, et al. [37,38] enlarged and validated its 32 and 38-item versions.

The item “I actively attend the Imams’ mourning ceremonies” suggested by university students, for example, describes the inspirational self in the 32-item ROS. Twelver Shiite requires adopting and following the prophet Muhammad and the twelve Imams such as Hussein Ibn Ali as “beautiful examples” of practicing monotheists. Imam Hussein, for example, got martyred because he opposed the self-theistic ruler of his time named Yazid. He misgoverned through injustice, e.g., killed those who did not swear allegiance to him. Instead of opposing any injustice as Hussein ME [39,40] did, the inspirational Shiites attend his mourning ceremony in order to win his “intercession” [41] and “to achieve salvation in the physical world and the other world” [42].

Similarly, 5 out of 11 extrinsic items developed by Allport AW, et al. [27] describe the concessional self of the validated 32-item ROS. This self is, according to divine religion, polytheistic as stated in its distinctive descriptions such as “although I believe in my religion, I feel there are many more important things in my life” and “occasionally I find it necessary to compromise my religious beliefs in order to protect my social and economic well-being” (Table 4). No practicing monotheist such as Imam Hussein, for example, ever lied to protect his social and economic well-being. According to Q63:1, it is the self-theists like Yazid and polytheists like Yazid’s accomplices who lie. Concessional selves do, however, lie occasionally, if not always, “to protect their social and economic well-being”.

Loading Genera
0.61 Although I believe in my religion, I feel there are many more important things in my life.
0.56 Occasionally I find it necessary to compromise my religious beliefs in order to protect my social and economic well- being.
0.54 Although I am a religious person, I refuse to let religious considerations influence my everyday affairs.
0.52 It doesn't matter so much what I believe so long as I lead a moral life.
0.48 I pray chiefly because I have been taught to pray.

Table 4: Five items describing the concessional self in the 32-item ROS.
Adapted from “Construct validation of a modified religious orientation scale within an Islamic context” by Khodadady E, et al. [37].

Since concessional university students believe that “social and economic well-being” is more important than religion, they must acquire the English Language Proficiency (ELP) because it helps them achieve this well-being abroad if not within Iran. Khodadady E, et al. [43] findings do not, however, reveal a significant relationship between the concessional factor of ROS and the ELP measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (Table 5). However, the findings show as the students actualize their humanitarian self through actions such as “visiting the deprived areas to help the settlers” they become less proficient in English (r=-147, p<.05). Similarly the more the students actualize their sacrificial self the less proficiency they gain in English (r=-156, p<.05).

F Family TOEFL
  32-item ROS -.086
1 Inspirational -.003
2 Intrinsic -.039
3 Social -.096
4 Concessional 029
5 Theo-pacific -.027
6 Humanitarian -.147*
7 Sacrificial -.156*

Table 5: Correlations between the TOEFL, ROS and its underlying factors (F).
Adapted from “Religious orientation and English language proficiency” by Khodadady E, et al. [43] Note * p<.5.

During the process of seeking students and pilgrims’ feedback on the validated 32-item ROS, Khodadady E, et al. [38] were asked to elaborate a number of its items. These elaborations brought about the linguistic and semantic modification of all the items by introducing them with the phrase “it is necessary and important …” More semantic details were then added to the compound and complex sentences with which the items were presented linguistically. For example, the extrinsic, concessional or polytheistic item “although I believe in my religion, I feel there are many more important things in my life” was revised as “it is necessary and important to accept that in spite of believing in religion, there are many more important things in life”.

For validating Khodadady E, et al. [38] linguistically and semantically revised 44-item ROS with secondary education students Dastgahian BS, et al. [44] administered it to 453 Grade 4 Senior High School (G4SH) students and subjected their responses to Principal Axis Factoring (PAF) and Varimax with a Kaiser Normalization (VKN). Thirty eight items loaded acceptably on eight factors representing their social, inspirational, observant, sacrificial, humanitarian, theo-pacific, inquisitive and charitable family. Comparing the items and factors constituting the genus and family of G4SHS students’ self with those of pilgrims in Khodadady E, et al. [38] study show that the students and pilgrims differ from each other in a number of findings.

First, the number of items constituting G4SHS students’ ROS, i.e., 38, was fewer than that of pilgrims, i.e., 40 table 6. Secondly, the number of factors underlying the students’ religion, i.e., eight, was also fewer than that of pilgrims, i.e., 10. Thirdly, the number of items constituting the students’ factors differed from that of pilgrims. The inspirational factor of pilgrims and G4SHS students, for example, consisted of six and nine items, respectively. And finally, the order of the students’ factors differs from that of pilgrims, indicating that the taxa of self they actualize differ in hierarchy.

Pilgrims G4SHS students
F Family No. of items Family No. of items
1 Inspirational 6 Social 13
2 Intrinsic 6 Inspirational 9
3 Congregational 4 Observant 4
4 Social 4 Sacrificial 2
5 Ceremonial 5 Humanitarian 2
6 Sacrificial 4 Theo-pacific 3
7 Theo-pacific 3 Inquisitive 3
8 Humanitarian 2 Charitable 2
9 Concessional 4 Total 38
10 Observant 2
Total 40

Table 6: Factors (F) underlying 40-and 38 item ROSs validated with pilgrims and G4SHS students.

The first factor underlying the validated 40-item ROS, for example, shows that the majority of pilgrims visiting the shrine of the eighth Imam become an inspirational self whose characteristics are described by six items. The most distinctive characteristic of this self is “attending the ceremony of the Night of Qadr” with the highest acceptable loading of 0.61. According to Hawzah [45], an official organization established by theologians, 11 rulings must be observed in the ceremony one of which is “putting the printed Quran on the head”. Through the mediation of this object the inspirational Twelver Shiite pilgrim secures his worldly as well as the hereafter life without opposing injustice and tyranny as the prophet Muhammad and 12 Imams did.

In contrast to pilgrims, the majority of G4SHS students become social rather than inspirational in their self table 6. The two items having the first and third highest loadings of .56 and .54 on this self show that they “consider mosques as the most important places where good social relationships are formed”. They do, therefore, “become a member of mosque to establish themselves in the community”. Social G4SHS students thus attend mosques not to learn and comply with the Quranic instructions such as “disavowing unjust self-theists” such as Yazid but to develop strong networks through which they achieve their personal objectives such as getting accepted in universities and securing employment.

Unlike the psychological self-actualization measured by the 15-item SISA, the humanized religious self-actualization measured by the 38- item ROS associates with language achievement. Dastgahian BS, et al. [46], for example, administered the ROS to 440 G4SHS students and correlated it with their scores on the written Grade 3 Final English Examination (G3FEE) developed by the Ministry of Education on the course book “English Book 3” [47]. Their results showed that the G3FEE related significantly but negatively to the ROS (r=-.21, p. 01) and its social (r=-.25, p. 01), inspirational (r=-.27, p. 01), and sacrificial (r=-.20, p. 01) factors (Table 7).

F Family G3FEE
  38-item ROS -.209**
1 Social -.253**
2 Inspirational -.272**
3 Observant -0.026
4 Sacrificial -.197**
5 Humanitarian -0.093
6 Theo-pacific .046
7 Inquisitive 111*
8 Charitable 133**

Table 7: Correlations between the 38-item ROS, its eight underlying factors (F) and scores on the G3FEE (N=440).
Adapted from “Religious orientation and English language achievement in secondary education: A correlational study in an Iranian context” by Dastgahian BS, et al. [46] in Transformation and Empowerment through Education, edited by R. Chowdhury, New York, NY: Routledge, Note. G3FEE, Grade 3 Final English examination; *p<.05, **p<.01

Among the eight selves identified as the factors underlying the 38- item ROS, the inspirational self has the highest negative correlation with the G3FEE (r=-.272, p. 01) because it secures salvation through intercession rather than standing against injustice as a divine religious commitment. The first item having the highest loading on the second factor, for example, describes the inspirational self as a sapiens who “actively attends the mourning ceremonies held for the Prophet’s household”. In the ceremony if it “cries for Imam Hussein (AS) [as a member of the household] so sincerely that its tears role down its cheeks God will forgive any small or big, few or many sins it has committed” [48].

While the more mourning an inspirational self does the less it achieves in learning the English language (r=-.27, p. 01), the more a charitable self represented by the eighth factor underlying the 38-item ROS “supports orphans” and “allocates some money to help charitable organizations”, the higher it achieves in learning the language (r=.13, p. 01). Similarly, the more inquisitive G4SHS students become in their self by “obtaining information on other religions besides Islam”, “doing research before accepting Islam” and “leading a moral life without attaching any importance to what religion they believe”, the higher they score on the G3FEE (r=.11, p. 05). These descriptions do in fact show that the high school students have transformed practicing monotheism to self-theism.

Actualizing charitable and inquisitive selves are taxa of both selftheism and practicing monotheism. The self-theistic charitable and inquisitive selves do, however, differ from those of their practicing monotheistic counterparts in being sapiens-rather-than-God orientated. Sapiens-orientated charity and inquisitiveness are not accepted by the Quran because they are actualized not to please God but to achieve self-theistic goals such as gaining “a veneer of respectability” [49] among people. During the administration of the validated 32-item ROS some university students, for example, asked Khodadady E, et al. [43] whether “allocating some money to help charitable organizations” was meant to be done for humanistic, i.e., self-theistic, or religious, i.e., practicing monotheistic, purposes. When they were told, “the latter”, they changed their responses.

In contrast to scales such as ROSs and SISA which are designed by self-theistic sapiens to define and measure self-actualization as a polytheistic objective changing from country to country and high school to university students and pilgrims, the Quran defines selfactualization in terms of self-theistic, polytheistic and practicing monotheistic objective pursued by all sapiens everywhere at all time. It also provides specific ayat as items with which the three objectives can be measured. The Quran exhorts practicing monotheism as the best self-actualization. Khodadady E, et al. [50] did, therefore, analyzed the Quranic ayat which addressed practicing monotheists directly and chose 57 of these ayat to develop their 60-item Quranic Orientation Scale (QOS). They fitted the G4SHS students’ characteristics such as being single.

Khodadady E, et al. [50] administered the QOS to 1123 Iranian G4SHS students and subjected their responses to PAF and Promax with Kaiser Normalization (PKN). The results showed that out of 60 items describing the MACAST-based practicing monotheistic self, 48 loaded acceptably on seven factors representing the MICAST-based selves of Believing In Holy Scriptures (BHS), Remembering And Seeking Allah (RSA), Fulfilling Quranic Obligations (FQO), Following Allah Confidently (FAC), Following Quranic Instructions (FQI), Not Befriending Disbelievers (NBD) and Informed Quranic Struggle (IQS) described in 259 word types. The present study was designed to explore the relationship between the validated 48-item QOS and its seven underlying factors with school and English language achievement measured by the students’ GPAs, their scores obtained on the G3FEE and a schema-based close multiple-choice item test (S-Test). The following hypotheses were postulated to be tested in the study.

1. The QOS and its seven underlying factors correlate significantly with the G4SHS students’ GPA.

2. The QOS and its seven underlying factors correlate significantly with the G4SHS students’ scores on the G3EFEE.

3. The QOS and its seven underlying factors correlate significantly with the G4SHS students’ scores on the S-Test.



Out of 1123 G4SHS students who had taken the 48-item QOS validated by Khodadady E, et al. [50], 147 female students volunteered to take the S-Test as well provided that the researchers provided them with their scores and discussed their performance on the test. Their age ranged between 16 and 19 (mean=17.43, SD=0.536). While 116 majored in experimental sciences (78.9%), the remaining 31 studied mathematics (21.1%). Among the takers of the S-Test, 142, four and one spoke Persian (96.6%), English (2.7%) and Kurdish (0.7%) as their mother language, respectively


The S-Test and QOS were employed in this study to measure G4SHS students’ English language achievement and their self-actualization as practicing monotheists. The former was designed by Khodadady E, et al. [51] on the content of the course book “Learning to Read English for Pre-University Students” [52] taught to G4SHS students nationally. It consisted of eight reading passages. By resorting to the MICAST, Khodadady E, et al. [51] parsed all the reading passages and vocabulary sections of the book word by word and found that they represented 1174 semantic (74.4%), 209 syntactic (13.25%), and 195 parasyntactic (12.4%) schema types, totaling 1578 (100%).

Khodadady E, et al. [51] deleted 90 schema types used in the 11 paragraphs constituting the S-Test and replaced them with a blank. For each blank they offered four choices one of which was the deleted schema or the keyed response. Out of 1578 schema types comprising the course book from which the 11 paragraphs of the S-Test had been chosen 270 were selected to be presented as the alternatives of keyed responses. Since the 270 alternative had syntactic, semantic, and contextual relationship with the 90 keyed responses they were called “competitives” [53]. The example below shows the stem, keyed response and three competitives offered as choices for item 1 and 2 on the S-Test.

Example S-test items

Stem: Aerobics is a word for … (1) oxygen, and aerobic exercise is any kind of activity that … (2) your muscles use oxygen (Table 8).

No Competitive Keyed response Competitive Competitive
1 A lacking B needing C avoiding D missing
2 A builds B makes C produces D creates

Table 8: S-Test Items: Stem: Aerobics is a word for (1) oxygen, and aerobic exercise is any kind of activity that (2) your muscles use oxygen.

The competitives of item 1 above, i.e., lacking, avoiding and missing, for example, are all syntactically related to the keyed response needing in being verbs. Semantically, needing shares the feature of “being essential” with the competitives lacking and missing. However, the contextual schema aerobics used in the stem of the item does not qualify as an animate agent to miss or lack a substance and thus lacking and missing become discoursally inappropriate to be chosen as the keyed response of item 1. Similarly, avoiding indicates the necessity of keeping away from something during aerobics, however, it does not relate to the keyed response as semantically as lacking and missing do.

Khodadady E, et al. [51] administered the 90-item S-Test to 283 G4SHS students and reported the descriptive statistics presented in table 9. As can be seen, it is a highly challenging measure of contentbased achievement because it’s mean of raw scores, item facility and item discrimination are 0 39.9, 0.44 and 0.21, respectively. The alpha reliability of the test is .75 while those of its semantic and syntactic subtests are .64 and .53, respectively. In addition to content validity, the S-Test enjoys high empirical validity because it correlated very strongly with the C-Test designed on the items of S-Test, i.e., r =.99, p<.01. (For designing the C-Test, the first letter of the deleted schema is given and the test takers are required to restore the remaining letters of the schema replaced with a dash, e.g., Aerobics is a word for 1n - - - - - oxygen, and aerobic exercise is any kind of activity that m2 - - - - your muscles use oxygen.)

Subtest No. of items No. of items Mean SD Mean IF Mean ID No. of WFI Alpha
Semantic 55 61.1 24.64 5.892 .4479 .2035 19 .64
Syntactic 35 38.9 15.26 4.144 .4361 .2090 10 .53
Total 90 100.0 39.90 9.066 .4433 .2056 29 .75

Table 9: Descriptive statistics of S-Test.
Adapted from “S-Tests and C-Tests: Measures of Content-Based Achievement at Grade Four of High Schools” by Khodadady E, et al. [51].
Note. IF, item facility, ID, item discrimination, WFI, well functioning items.

Similar to the S-Test, the QOS has content validity because its items have been developed on the Quran. It also enjoys construct validity because its seven underlying factors have been extracted and rotated via PFA and Promax with Kaiser Normalization (PKN) from the responses of 1123 Iranian G4SHS students, respectively. Furthermore, the QOS itself as well as its second factor, remembering and seeking Allah, are highly reliable, i.e., α=0.95 and 0.93, respectively (Table 10). The most to the least reliable remaining six factors are believing in Holy Scriptures (0.87), following Allah confidently (0.84), fulfilling Quranic obligations (0.76), not befriending disbelievers (0.71), following Quranic instructions (0.66) and informed Quranic struggle (0.66).

F Taxa of self No. of Item Minimum Maximum Mean SD Alpha
  QOS (practicing monotheism) 48 113 240 196.76 24.501 0.95
1 Believing in Holy Scriptures 12 23 60 52.76 6.812 0.87
2 Remembering and seeking Allah 13 19 65 51.99 8.606 0.93
3 Fulfilling Quranic obligations 8 15 40 33.04 4.227 0.76
4 Following Allah confidently 4 4 20 17.18 2.794 0.84
5 Following Quranic instructions 4 6 20 15.12 2.590 0.66
6 Not befriending disbelievers 4 4 20 15.24 3.162 0.71
7 Informed Quranic struggle 3 3 15 11.43 2.347 0.66

Table 10: Descriptive statistics and reliability estimates of QOS and its constituting factors (F).
Adapted from “A scripture-specific religious orientation scale: Development and validation” by Khodadady E, et al. [50,51].


The procedures followed in the administration of the QOS in this study are detailed by Khodadady E, et al. [50]. It was administered early in the school year starting in spring because the G4SHS students had to spend all their time on reviewing the materials so that they could prepare themselves for the University Entrance Examination (UEE) held nationally in the summer of each year. They took the S-Test administered in a single session and their scores on the test were announced and discussed one week later so that they could have an objective measure of their own English language achievement. The students’ success on the UEE does partly depend on this achievement.

Data analysis

In order to estimate the internal consistency of the 48-item QOS and 90-item S-Test Cronbach LJ [54] alpha reliability coefficient was employed. It provides “the most important and pervasive statistics” [55] in the literature. The Pearson product-moment correlations were also estimated as “the most frequently used measure of association” [56] between the cognitive domains of divine religious self measured by the QOS, English language achievement measured by the G3FEE and S-Test and school achievement measured by GPAs. All descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were run via IBM SPSS Statistics 24.


Table 11 presents the correlations of G4SHS students’ GPAs, G3FEE and S-Test with the QOS and its underlying factors. As can be seen, the GPAs do not correlate significantly with the QOS and its underlying factors and thus reject the first hypothesis. With the exception of NBU and IQS, the G3FEE correlates significantly but negatively with the QOS (r=-.085, p<.01). BHS (r=-.065, p<.05), RSA (r=-.090, p<.01), FQO (r=-.078, p<.01), FAC (r=-.085, p<.01), and FQI (r=-.091, p<.01), largely confirming the second hypothesis. And finally the S-Test correlates significantly and positively with the QOS (r=.169, p<.01) and its two underlying factors, i.e., BHS (r=.190, p<.01) and FQO (r=.167, p<.01), partly confirming the third hypothesis.

  QOS .016 -.085** .169*              
1 BHS .012 -.065* .190* .917**            
2 RSA .008 -.090** .156 .942** .821**          
3 FQO .012 -.078** .167* .850** .746** .772**        
4 FAC .006 -.085** .035 .722** .555** .637** .523**      
5 FQI .010 -.091** .108 .680** .620** .579** .555** .384**    
6 NBU .033 -.044 .131 .815** .708** .728** .662** .555** .511**  
7 IQS .037 -.054 .101 .654** .524** .586** .387** .681** .308** .533**

Table 11: Correlations of QOS and its underlying factors (F) with S-Test, GPA and G3FEE Correlations of QOS and its underlying factors (F) with S-Test, GPA and G3FEE.


This study drew on schema theory and empirical findings to dispense with studying sapiens as actual [57], conscious [58], desired [59], false [60], ideal [61], nuclear [62,63], ought [57], perceived [64], personal [65], phony [66], surface [67], true [32] and unique [17] selves. The diversity and subjectivity of these selves has produced such confusion that scholars like Allport GW [68] have attempted but failed to replace it with terms such as proprium. The theory and findings assign the sapiens to self-theistic, polytheistic and practicing monotheistic taxa of self based on who they follow when they act. Their actualization of polytheism, for example, provides a theoretically sounder and descriptively more objective characterization of sapiens than conceptualizing them as defective selves “prone to states of fragmentation, weakness, or disharmony” [69] in humanistic psychiatry.

Self-theists, polytheists and practicing monotheists are distinguished from each other not in terms of Maslow AH [70,71] needs but in terms of who they follow when they act. While self-theists, for example, follow none but themselves, polytheists follow whoever serves their personal desires or objectives. Practicing monotheists, however, follow one-and-only one God. The results reported and obtained in this study show that G4SHS students actualize their self not only in belief or cognition by taking SASs such as SISA, ROSs and QOS but also in actions by taking examinations such as FEE and G3FEE and tests such as S-Tests. The students’ self-actualization is also reflected in measures such as GPA. While the norm-referenced FEE, G3FEE and GPA are designed or estimated by self-theists to serve polytheistic purposes, only the criterion-referenced S-Tests measure their takers’ self-actualization as self-theists or practicing monotheists.

The results of MICAST-based analysis conducted in this study, for example, show that the SISA measures self-actualization polytheistic because of its 83 word types and their combination with each other within 15 sentences. Among the types, “I”, “feel”, “can”, and “people” have the first to fourth highest tokens of 18, 5, 3, and 2, respectively. The word type representing the second most frequent schema feel as used in the five out of 15 sentences is polytheistic because it has “an emotional conviction of (a fact)” [72] rather than complying with facts or truth. The item “I feel I must [not] do what others expect me to do” renders doing a regular action such as attending classes emotional rather than essential. It also renders it dependent on others as various gods whose expectations shape the actions done.

In contrast to the polytheistic SISA, the 48-item QOS addresses practicing monotheistic self-actualization with 259 word types whose four highest tokens of 56, 26, 24, and 22 reveal the centrality of the schemata “I”, “and”, “the” and “Allah”, respectively. The syntactic schemata “and” and “the” do indeed connect “I”, the takers of QOS, to the one-and-only one God named exclusively as “Allah” in the Quran. These statistics show that unlike the takers of SISA who actualize their self by complying with others’ expectations the taker of QOS actualize their self by following only Allah as the ultimate and highest self whose likeness is not found.

The polytheistic 15-item SISA does not associate with language achievement when it is measured by the norm-referenced FEE [23]. The polytheistic 38-item ROS, however, associates negatively with language achievement (r=-.209, p<.01) when it is measured by the norm-referenced G3FEE [45]. The “marks” [73] obtained on the FEE and G3FEE do not associate or associate negatively with the English language achievement because the designers of these scales and examinations are more interested in facilitating “comparisons among students” [74] than finding out whether they have actualized their self though learning the materials taught via the language.

In contrast to polytheistic norm-referenced examinations the scores obtained on criterion-referenced tests quantify only the students’ own mastery of the specific content brought up in their English course book. Since the content is measured by the items which are reliable and valid in their construction and representation of the content, the criterion referenced S-Test employed in this study associates significantly with the QOS (r=.169, p<.05). The association shows that the takers of S-Test have actualized their self through learning the content brought up in the language not by following the norms approved by others such as teachers and parents but by following Allah characterized as “the Clear Truth”.

Among the seven taxa developed by students to actualize their self as practicing monotheists, believing in Holy Scriptures (r=.190, p<.05) and fulfilling Quranic obligations (r=.167, p<.05) also associate with the English language achievement measured by the S-Test. As the first and third factors underlying the QOS these taxa highlight the gradual hierarchical attainment of practicing monotheism as the ultimate objective in self-actualization. When students, for example, do not 1) take non-monotheistic parents, family and relatives for protectors, 2) yield to family members’ non-monotheistic demands and 3) accuse anyone of unbelief without proper investigation, they actualize their self at its lowest taxon as informed Quranic strugglers.

Neither the QOS and its taxa nor the S-Test administered in this study; however, associate significantly with school achievement measured by GPAs because the GPAs are estimated polytheistically to reflect “not only language ability, but also academic abilities subject knowledge; perseverance, study skills, adaptability to the host culture and context, and many other variables” [75]. The very inclusion of variables such as adaptability renders the GPAs polytheistic because it renders language achievement dependent on the approval of its native speaker. The findings of this study do, therefore, show that instead of polytheistic scales, examinations and measures such as the SISA, ROSs, FEE, G3FEE and GPAs, the monotheistic scales such as the QOS and S-Tests should be employed in educational institutions if self-actualization is their ultimate objective.


The majority of teachers employed by the ministry of education in Iran, if not all, graduate from tertiary education institutions such as Shahid Beheshti Teacher Training College. According to Sedayemoshaveran [76], after meeting minimum requirements such as gaining the raw rank of 6500 or higher in the UEE, the applicants to these institutions are required to attend and succeed in an interview in which their appearance, speaking ability and beliefs are evaluated. The belief section of the interview requires them to acknowledge that they follow a marja’-i taqlid [77] or “mujtahid” [78] not only in religion but also in all other fields such as education and politics.

As a mujtahid Ayatollah Sistani SAH [79] ruled that “in matters concerning the laws of religion … a person must either be a jurist (mujtahid)” … who is capable of ascertaining laws based on proof; or he must follow a mujtahid” (p.1). This ruling legitimatizes not following God by mastering the Quran but following a mujtahid such as Ayatollah Khamenei, current leader of Iran [80]. It implicitly requires all sapiens to practice polytheism by abiding with non-Quranic laws of religion ascertained by self-theists academically known as theologians. Specialists in all fields of study rule the same by requiring sapiens in general and students in particular to accept and follow their personal views as laws, i.e., truth, allegedly ascertained from their fields of specialty. Jones A, et al. [22], for example, required the takers of their SISA to practice polytheism in the hope of achieving various objectives such as learning the content taught in English by abiding with their 15 items.

Similar to SASs and ROSs, the norm-referenced G3FEE is designed and held by self-theistic educational authorities to render students’ English language learning polytheistic. For this very reason, the G3FEE associates negatively not only with the QOS measuring practicing monotheism but also with its five taxa of FQI, RSA, FAC, FQO, and BHS measuring following Quranic instructions, remembering and seeking Allah, following Allah confidently, fulfilling Quranic obligations and believing in Holy Scriptures, respectively. However, the negative association between G3FEE and QOS, FQI, RSA, FAC, FQO, and BHS is much weaker than those of 38-item ROS and its social, inspirational and sacrificial taxa (Table 7).

The findings of this study along with those cited in its Introduction show that instead of helping students actualize their self as practicing monotheists through the QOS and S-Tests, self-theistic power holders support polytheism by developing or endorsing scales such as SASs and ROSs and norm-referenced examinations such as FEE and G3FEE. The students’ willful actualization of polytheistic selves results in failing on criterion-referenced language achievement tests such as the S-Tests and language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL attesting to their cognitive deficiency known as mental, psychiatric, or psychological disorder.


The results and conclusions of this study need to be treated tentatively because its participants were all female in gender. Furthermore, the relationships found in the study are correlation rather than experimental. Future research projects are required to corroborate the relationships.


The authors would like to express their gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers whose comments resulted in addressing selfactualization as clearly and specifically as possible.


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Citation: Khodadady E, Dastgahian BS (2022) Which Self-Actualization Associates with Language and School Achievement: Monotheistic or Polytheistic? J Psychiatry Ment Health 7(1):

Copyright: © 2022 Khodadady E, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Publication history: 

  • Received date: 02 May, 2022

  • Accepted date: 07 Jun, 2022

  • Published date: 07 Jul, 2022