Personal Relationships with God as Secure Attachment: Measures, Factor Structures, and Validity




Tamez, Abbigail Elaine

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The attachment framework (Bowlby, 1969/2008) has commonly been used to conceptualize people’s relationships with God. Associations have been found between attachment to God (ATG) and positive psychological outcomes. But some measurement issues remain. Common measures have few positively worded items tapping secure ATG, that incorporate God’s unique qualities as an attachment figure—facets important for content validity (e.g., Kimball et al., 2013; Proctor et al., 2009). The current study appears to be a first simultaneous look at the factor structures and content validity of several ATG measures, including 60 new items based on previous research. N = 116 members of the Christian faith, many who feel close to God, took an anonymous online survey. The well-known two attachment dimensions, avoidance and anxiety, emerged, most notably, in combined analyses for common measures: the Attachment to God Scale (ATGS) and the Attachment to God Inventory (AGI). Also, items tapping distinct attachment criteria (Ainsworth) loaded soundly on a single factor (Sim & Loh, 2003)—which was found to be the avoidance dimension, per previous research (e.g., Brennan et al., 1998). Thus, positively worded secure ATG items tapped avoidance, as opposed to anxiety or something separate. Sub-factors emerged for AGI-Anxiety, the Emotionally Based Religiosity Scale, and newly created items. Surprisingly, factor loadings and reliability were very high for new items. Preliminary evidence for their convergent and discriminant validity emerged. New item content fit the ATG dimensions. Evidence also suggested possible issues with some items discussed prior. Data were combined and reduced for future research.


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attachment, measurement, mental health, psychometrics, relationships with God, spirituality