Date Approved

6-12-2008

Date Posted

12-15-2009

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Alida Westman, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan, PhD

Committee Member

Steven Huprich, PhD

Committee Member

Brian Bruya, PhD

Abstract

Many studies have found positive relationships between religion and mental health. This study explored the relationships between Religious Orientations, Positive Adjustment, and Object Relations. Intrinsics live by their religion, whereas Extrinsics use their religion for other ends (Allport & Ross, 1967), and Questers explore religion (Batson & Schoenrade, 1991a, 1991b). Positive Adjustment, a latent variable, consisted of Life Satisfaction (Pavot & Diener, 1993), Hope (Snyder, Harris, et al., 1991), Optimism (Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994), and Flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975b, 1982). Object Relations refers to an individual’s interpersonal dynamics and attachment style (Rizzuto, 1979; Winnicott, 1971) and were posited to play a moderating and/or mediating role in the relationships between Religious Orientation and Positive Adjustment. Scales measuring each of these variables and some additional questions to explore the nature of Religious Orientations were compiled into a questionnaire and given to 197 students and 80 members of the larger community, including both Christians and Jews.

Three hypotheses were tested. Hypothesis 1 indicated that Religious Orientations, Object Relations, and Positive Adjustment would be significantly interrelated. This hypothesis was supported for many of the specific relationships posited. Further analyses showed other relationships, including group-specific effects for Christians and Jews. The second hypothesis indicated that Object Relations would serve as a moderating role in the relationship between Religious Orientation and Positive Adjustment, whereas the third indicated that Object Relations would mediate the relationships between Religious Orientation and Positive Adjustment. These hypotheses were not supported, largely due to a lack of relationships between Religious Orientations and Object Relations or Positive Adjustment, thereby eliminating the possibility of a model inclusive of the three variables.

Overall, this study failed to find support for moderation or mediation models between Religious Orientation, Object Relations, and Positive Adjustment. Partial support was found for a link between Object Relations and Positive Adjustment, but few significant relationships were found between Religious Orientations and any other variables. The findings suggest that measures used to assess Religious Orientation deserve further analysis and theoretical conceptualization, in part to better understand how Religious Orientation might affect other psychological traits or experiences.

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