God representations and aspects of psychological functioning: A meta-analysis: A meta-analysis

Henk P. Stulp, Jurrijn Koelen, Annemiek Schep-Akkerman, Gerrit G. Glas, Liesbeth Eurelings-Bontekoe

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Results of meta-analyses show weak associations between religiosity and well-being, but are based on divergent definitions of religiosity. Objective: The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the magnitude of the associations between God representations and aspects of psychological functioning. Based on object-relations and attachment theory, the study discerns six dimensions of God representations: Two positive affective God representations, three negative affective God representations, and God control. Associations with well-being and distress and with self-concept, relationships with others and neuroticism were examined. Methods: The meta-analysis was based on 123 samples out of 112 primary studies with 348 effect sizes from in total 29,963 adolescent and adult participants, with a vast majority adherent of a theistic religion. Results: The analyses, based on the random-effects model, yielded mostly medium effect sizes (r = .25 to r = .30) for the associations of positive God representations with well-being, and for the associations of two out of three negative God representations with distress. Associations of God representations with self-concept, relationships with others and neuroticism were of the same magnitude. Various moderator variables could not explain the relatively high amount of heterogeneity. The authors found no indications of publication bias. Conclusion: The observed effect sizes are significantly stronger than those generally found in meta-analyses of associations between religiousness and well-being/mental health. Results demonstrate the importance of focusing on God representations instead of on behavioral or rather global aspects of religiosity. Several implications with respect to assessment, clinical practice, and future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1647926
Pages (from-to)1-50
Number of pages50
JournalCogent Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • god representations
  • mental health
  • meta-analysis
  • self-concept
  • well-being

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