Beginning Survey

Controversial Conversations is a research project conducted by the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University and supported by the Teagle Foundation. Our goal is to identify the practices that contribute to good conversations on controversial topics on college campuses. Thank you for participation in a campus laboratory through Controversial Conversations. Please take the time to fill out the following survey.


Working Definition:

A controversial conversation is one that generates sharp disagreements or strong emotions. It may be that participants are committed to divergent positions on an issue. It may also be that participants, whatever their positions, feel that important aspects of their identities are at stake in the discussion.


Please indicate your agreement with each statement. Please note that we are not trying to promote particular views, we are simply trying to determine if people with different views experience controversial conversations differently.
  disagree strongly disagree neutral agree agree strongly
I should not speak up in a controversial conversation unless I have a strong opinion.
I can learn a lot from people with whom I disagree.
I can learn a lot from people who don’t have strong opinions.
I will work hard to defend the free speech of people with whom I disagree.
Some things are simply right or wrong.
No one has a right to judge another person’s beliefs.
Beliefs about right and wrong are entirely subjective.
In a college classroom, all ideas should be treated equally.
A college should help its students form correct moral beliefs.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to sexual orientation.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to abortion.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to socioeconomic class.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to race.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to gender.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to health care coverage.
I am knowledgeable about issues related to affirmative action.
When I am not sure of my views on a controversial issue, I find it helpful to ask questions.
When I am not sure of my views on a controversial issue, I find it helpful to read articles on the issue.
When I am not sure of my views on a controversial issue, I find it helpful to listen to the arguments of people who have strong views.
When I am not sure of my views on a controversial issue, I find it helpful to talk to people who are personally affected by the issue.
When I am not sure of my views on a controversial issue, I find it helpful to brainstorm possible arguments on both sides.
I believe it is important to participate in conversations on controversial issues even when I am not sure of my own views.
How often do you perform the following behaviors during controversial conversations?
  almost never seldom sometimes frequently almost always
I interrupt others.
I try to see the issue from the perspective of oppressed persons.
I try to paraphrase the views of others in order to understand better.
I focus on the weakest aspects of other people's arguments.
I seek to identify points of agreement.
I address challenging issues directly.
I choose not to speak.
I make logical arguments.
I avoid the most challenging issues.
I use polite language.
I listen attentively.
I acknowledge the best arguments of those with whom I disagree.
I share factual information.
I share personal experiences.
I express strong feelings.
I am open to changing my mind.
I share perspectives rooted in my faith commitments.
I respect official Catholic teachings.
I ask clarifying questions of those with whom I disagree.
I gain a deeper understanding of objective truth.
I emphasize moral principles.
I respect the authority of experts.
I gain a deeper understanding of other perspectives.
I change the subject to something less controversial.
I hold fast to my own beliefs.
I raise my voice.
I use insulting language.
I stress facts more than opinions.
I try to win.
I express unpopular ideas.
I encourage newcomers to speak up.
I build stronger relationships with others.
I speak up even when I am not sure of my own views.
I ask questions.
I express views that are not widely shared.
I encourage those with whom I disagree to speak.
I encourage those who are unsure of their own views to speak.
I express middle-of-the-road opinions.
I encourage those with middle-of-the-road opinions to speak.
I build on values I already share with other participants.
I have fun.
Please indicate your agreement with each statement. Please note that we are not trying to promote particular views, we are simply trying to determine if people with different views experience controversial conversations differently.
  disagree strongly disagree neutral agree agree strongly
Abortion should be legal.
Affirmative action in college admissions should not be practiced.
Through hard work, everybody can succeed in American society.
The Catholic Church should ordain women.
Wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes than they do now.
Same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status.
The primary responsibilities of married women are in the realm of home and family.
The government should do more to ensure equal opportunity to all people regardless of race.
It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships.
A national health care plan is needed to cover everybody’s medical costs.
Same-sex couples should be able to receive the same employment benefits and inheritance rights as married heterosexual couples.
The government should redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.
GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) persons should be protected from discrimination in the workplace.
Economic inequality is a major problem in American society.
Men and women should participate equally in caring for children.
GLBT persons should be welcome to participate fully in the life of the Catholic Church.
Racism is still a major problem in American society.
The government should guarantee the basic necessities of life to all Americans.
The Catholic Church should not ordain men with strong homosexual tendencies.
Men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.
The descendents of slaves should receive reparations from the United States government.
A person working full time should earn enough to support a family.
The capitalist system is harmful to working class people.
Sexism is still a major problem in American society.
The government should do more to promote gender equality.
Gender:
Were you raised Catholic?
Do you currently identify as Catholic?
Which best describes your views on most issues?
Religion
  unimportant slightly important moderately important important very important
How important is religion to the family with whom you mostly grew up?
How important is religion to you personally?
Year at CSB/SJU: