The mind of the Lord: Measuring authoritarian and benevolent God representations

Kathryn Johnson, Morris A. Okun, Adam Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Many religious individuals use ordinary social cognitions when thinking about God's characteristics. In the absence of a generally accepted measure, we developed a measure assessing God representations as authoritarian (A-God) and benevolent (B-God) using 4 community samples of Christians. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (Studies 1 and 2), we found support for a 2-factor model. The 2-week test-retest reliability estimates were .78 and .81 (Study 3). In Study 4, we validated our new measure. B-God was associated with a secure attachment style, whereas A-God was not associated with attachment style. B-God was positively associated with agreeableness and conscientiousness, whereas A-God was negatively associated with agreeableness. Controlling for personality and other God representation measures, the A-God subscale predicted the value of power, and the B-God subscale predicted the value of benevolence. The usefulness of the measure for future research is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • God concept
  • God image
  • God representation
  • religious beliefs
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology


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