Theory and evidence suggest that an individual’s faith relationship with God can function as an attachment relationship. Attachment theory may therefore provide a useful framework for understanding religious individuals’ experiences of their relationship with God and the associations between this relationship and their mental health. One of the key mechanisms through which attachment relationships influence mental health is via the process of affect-regulation, particularly when experiencing negative events.
If attachment to God functions in a similar way to human attachment relationships, then a secure attachment to God would function to psychologically buffer an individual when s/he experiences negative events. Conversely, a higher degree of anxiety or avoidance in one’s attachment relationship with God would predict worse mental health outcomes when experiencing negative events. These effects would occur at least in part because one’s style of attachment to God is likely to influence the way in which an individual ‘uses’ this relationship in the context of coping with negative events. These hypotheses were tested in a sample of 530 Christians who responded to an online survey at two time-points (approximately four months apart). An overview of initial analyses from this data set will be provided, regarding the relationship between attachment to God, religious coping and subsequent depression and wellbeing under the experience of negative events.
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