Friday, August 17, 2018

Attachment to God

Attachment to God is an application of attachment theory to understand the relationship between people and God. As in attachment theory, the two dimensions of anxiety vs. peace or calm and avoidance vs. closeness can be measured separately, although the two dimensions are positively correlated.

Lee A. Kirkpatrick (2012) of the College of William and Mary along with his colleagues (e.g., Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990) is usually credited with an early application of attachment theory (e.g., Ainsworth, 1969; Bowlby, 1969) to believer-God relationships. Attachment to God may be limited to religions like Christianity, which explicitly use the language of family relationships such as God-father and offer parent-like descriptions of God as caring and loving.

Attachment to God has been measured in different ways. It is possible to use two items measuring the relationship to God as anxious or avoidant. However, the Attachment to God Inventory (AGI) developed by Richard Beck and Angie McDonald has been widely used with some success.

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Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1969). Object relations, dependency, and attachment: A theoretical review of the infant-mother relationship. Child Development40, 969–1025.

Beck, R., & McDonald, A. (2004). Attachment to God: The attachment to God inventory, tests of working model correspondence, and an exploration of faith group differences. Journal of Psychology and Theology32, 92–103.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Hall, T. W., Fujikawa, A., Halcrow, S. R., Hill, P.C., & Delaney, H. (2009). Attachment to God and implicit spirituality: Clarifying correspondence and compensation models. Journal of Psychology and Theology37, 227–242.

Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2012). Attachment theory and the evolutionary psychology of religion. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion22(3), 231-241. doi:10.1080/10508619.2012.679556

Kirkpatrick, L. A., & Shaver, P.R. (1990). Attachment theory and religion: Childhood attachments, religious beliefs, and conversion. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion29, 315–334.

Sutton, G. W. & Mittelstadt, M. W. (2012). Loving God and loving others: Learning about love from psychological science and Pentecostal perspectives. Journal of Christianity and Psychology31, 157-166.

Sutton, G. W., McLeland, K. C., Weaks, K. Cogswell, P. E., & Miphouvieng, R. N. (2007). Does gender matter? An exploration of gender, spirituality, forgiveness and restoration following pastor transgressions. Pastoral Psychology. 55, 645-663. doi 10.1007/ s11089-007-0072-3 Online Link n11144j1655536l2/ Academia link Research Gate Link

Tjeltveit, A. C. (2006a). Psychology returns to love…of God and neighbor-as-self: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Psychology and Theology34, 3–7.

Tjeltveit, A. C. (2006b). Psychology’s love-hate relationship with love: Critiques, affirmations, and Christian responses. Journal of Psychology and Theology34, 8–22.

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