Validation of the Apperception Test God Representations: An implicit measure to assess attachment to God representations. Associations with explicit attachment to God measures and with implicit and explicit measures of distress

Henk P. Stulp*, Jurrijn Koelen, Gerrit G. Glas, Liesbeth Eurelings-Bontekoe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the context of theistic religions, God representations are an important factor in explaining associations between religion/spirituality and well-being/mental health. Although the limitations of self-report measures of God representations are widely acknowledged, well-validated implicit measures are still unavailable. Therefore, we developed an implicit Attachment to God measure, the Apperception Test God Representations (ATGR). In this study, we examined reliability and validity of an experimental scale based on attachment theory. Seventy-one nonclinical and 74 clinical respondents told stories about 15 cards with images of people. The composite Attachment to God scale is based on scores on two scales that measure dimensions of Attachment to God: God as Safe Haven and God as Secure Base. God as Safe Haven scores are based on two subscales: Asking Support and Receiving Support from God. Several combinations of scores on these latter subscales are used to assess Anxious and Avoidant attachment to God. A final scale, Percentage Secure Base, measures primary appraisal of situations as nonthreatening. Intraclass correlation coefficients showed that the composite Attachment to God scale could be scored reliably. Associations of scores on the ATGR scales and on the explicit Attachment to God Inventory with scores on implicitly and explicitly measured distress partly confirmed the validity of the ATGR scales by demonstrating expected patterns of associations. Avoidant attachment to God seemed to be assessed more validly with the implicit than with the explicit scale. Patients scored more insecure on the composite Attachment to God scale and three subscales than nonpatients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-291
Number of pages30
JournalArchive for the Psychology of Religion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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