Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type



Psychology, Criminal Justice and Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Valerie Lemmon

Second Advisor

Dr. Diane Brockman


Adult attachment typically develops in accordance with childhood attachment style, and may be anxious, avoidant, or secure. Likewise, religious individuals attach to God in the same three ways. Existing theories suggest that attachment to God may be in correspondence to one’s interpersonal attachment style (Beck & McDonald, 2004; Exline et al., 2013; Kimball et al., 2013; Sandage et al., 2015) or compensatory for something missing in interpersonal attachment relationships (Granqvist, 1998; Kirkpatrick, 1997, 1998). Forgiveness is a multifaceted construct, encompassing both decisional and emotional processes, as described in the 2012 model by Worthington et al. Existing research shows connections between pairs of these variables, but the current study sought a relationship between all three. Specifically, it was hypothesized that securely attached individuals would be significantly more likely to forgive, with attachment to God as a moderating factor, and that the inverse would be true of anxious or avoidant interpersonal attachment. A series of five electronic surveys was administered to participants from a small Christian university in Pennsylvania (N = 91), and the results were analyzed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). None of the results were statistically significant, indicating biases in the sample as well as less connection between the three constructs than was originally proposed. It appears that choosing not to forgive, even among a Christian population, is prevalent. When the choice to forgive is made, it may be out of a universal understanding that forgiveness is appropriate prosocial behavior, rather than a function of attachment. Finally, the results of this study appear to support the dual model of God attachment, although more data are needed to confirm.


Created as part of: PSYC 497 & PSYC 498

IRB approval: 2020-009