Types of God Representations and Mental Health: A Person-Oriented Approach

Hanneke Schaap-Jonker*, Nathan van der Velde, Elisabeth H.M. Eurelings-Bontekoe, Jozef M.T. Corveleyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As God representations are multi-facetted psychological processes regarding the personal meaning of God/the divine to the individual, this study examines how multiple aspects of God representations are configured within individuals belonging to a sample of psychiatric patients or a non-patient sample, and how these configurations are associated with mental health. By means of cluster analyses, three types of God representations were found: a Positive-Authoritative one, a Passive-Unemotional one, and, only among psychiatric patients, a Negative-Authoritarian one. Types of God representations were significantly related to affective state, as well as religious saliency and religious background. Patients with the negative type of God representation were more distressed and depressed, and Orthodox-Reformed patients reported significantly more negative types of God representations. This study demonstrates the value of a person-oriented approach, by showing that scale scores became especially meaningful in the context of the types, which enables more nuanced distinctions regarding subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


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