Science in Christian Perspective



Russell Heddendorf, M.A.

From: JASA 11 (September 1959): 16.

Probably the most practical, as well as profitable, step-child of sociology has been the field of market research. The man with the clipboard and interview schedules asking questions about one's preferences in TV, cereals, or soaps has become a common American fixture. Suffice it to say that all sociologists are not anxious to claim such heirs. Nevertheless, it has been mostly through basic research studies in mass communication media that techniques have been developed f or the study of mass behavior in the market research field.

The application of such methods to a particular problem may provide results which are of theoretical, as well as immediately useful, significance. A trend seems to be developing in which as much attention is being given to the theoretical as to the applied emphases of research. For the religiously disinterested sociologist, studies into the religious behavior of people are merely another attempt at basic research. For the Christian, however, such data often become a practical sourcebook.

In an attempt to synthesize the available material on religious behavior, Argyle presents data on the Billy Graham Crusades held in England in 1954 and 1955*. Using the variables of size of meeting, number of meetings, and leader at the meetings, some definite trends were indicated. The percentage of individuals making decisions was very significantly higher when the meetings were conducted by Graham himself. No doubt, the prestige of the leader is an important factor. Yet, the percentage was also considerably higher when the size of the meetings grew larger and there were fewer meetings. A more complete study would have to consider other possible variables in order to clarify the true effect of these factors.

* Argyle, Michael, Religious Behavior, The Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1959