Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Attachment to God and Humility: Indirect Effect and Conditional Effects Models

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Attachment to God and Humility: Indirect Effect and Conditional Effects Models

Article excerpt

The safe haven and secure base functions of attachment to God were examined in proposed indirect and conditional effects models. Support for the safe haven function stemmed from significant specific indirect effects between spiritual instability and dispositional humility through lowered differentiation of self, through increased insecure God attachment, and through both increased insecure attachment and lowered differentiation of self .A nonsignificant direct effect was also found. Partial support for the secure base function was observed as realistic acceptance moderated the association between religious exploration and clispositional humility. A significant negative association between exploration and humility was observed at lower levels of realistic acceptance, and the effect became nonsignificant and positive at highest levels of realistic acceptance. Implications for the conceptualization of humility are discussed, with particular attention to the framing of humility as a virtue of self-regulation.

Attachment theory has become a prominent framework for conceptualizing individuals' relating to God (e.g., Granqvist, 1998,2005; Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2008; Kirkpatrick, 1992, 1999, 2005; Rowatt & Kirkpatrick, 2002). Individuals may relate to God as a safe haven during times of distress and a secure base during times of non-distress (Beck, 2006a; Byrd & Boe, 2001; Kirkpatrick, 1992, 1999; Rowatt & Kirkpatrick, 2002). Spiritual instability and realistic acceptance are constructs informed by an attachment theory perspective (Hall & Edwards, 2002; Hall, Fujikawa, Ha!crow, Hill, & Delaney, 2009; Hall, Reise, & Haviland, 2007) of persons' "ways of relating to the sacred" (Shults & Sandage, 2006, P. 61). Those high in spiritual instability tend to exhibit insecurity, mistrust, and fear of abandonment in their attachment with God, while those high on realistic acceptance tend to demonstrate the secure-attachment capacity of maintaining connection to God despite experiencing frustrations and disappointments (Hall & Edwards, 2002; Hall et al., 2007; Sandage, Link, & Jankowski, 2010).

Spiritual instability has been described as a more implicit way of relating to God, and factor analytic findings revealed that spiritual instability positively loaded onto the same dimension as anxious God attachment and spiritual disappointment (Hall et al., 2009). Spiritual instability has also demonstrated negative associations with indicators of self-regulation, and a positive association with mental health symptoms (Sandage &Jankowski, 2010, 2013; Sandage et al., 2010). In contrast, realistic acceptance demonstrated a negative as- sociation with mental health symptoms (Sandage et al., 2010). Realistic acceptance has also demonstrated negative associations with spiritual instability and positive associations with intrinsic religious motivation (Hall & Edwards, 2002; Sandage et al., 2010).

Humility is considered a virtue in many spiritual and religious traditions (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), and has drawn increased empirical attention in recent years despite operational concerns related to the complexity of the construct (Davis etal., 2011). The construct of humility is perhaps best defined as multi-dimensional, consisting of (a) accurate self-appraisal (i.e., accurate assessment of self and recognition of limits), (b) an orientation toward others, and (c) the capacity for emotional self-regulation (Davis et al., 2011; Davis, Worthington, & Hook, 2010; &line, 2012; Ex-line & Hill, 2012; Jankowski, Sandage, & Hill, 2013; Tangney, 2000). Humility has demonstrated positive associations with indicators of well-being/prosocial-ity (Exline, 2012) and spirituality, and specifically the prayer fulfillment and universality dimensions of spiritual transcendence (Powers, Nam, Rowatt, & Hill, 2007).

Based on a conceptualization of relational spirituality informed by an attachment theory perspective, we examined empirical models that tested (a) the affect regulating premise of relating to God as a safe haven, and (b) the secure base function of exploration in relating to God. …

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