Article

Conversion and Attachment Insecurity Among Orthodox Jews

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Abstract

Radical conversion, which entails a sweeping transformation of existing meaning systems, is often precipitated by emotional distress. Nevertheless, although many individuals turn toward religion when distressed, few undertake total and radical conversions. Previous research suggests that insecurely attached individuals—who resemble James's disillusioned, doubting, and divided sick souls—may be particularly prone to radical conversions. Thus, the present research examined insecure parental attachment history and convert status among 122 Orthodox and 31 non-Orthodox Jews, hypothesizing that converts to and from Orthodox Judaism, who undertake an all-encompassing transformation of beliefs, behaviors, values, and life's purpose, would report greater insecurity in parental attachment history than nonconverts. Results indicate that converts report greater maternal and paternal insecurity, as compared to both nonconverts and those with intra-Orthodox religious change. Thus, further research examining insecure attachment, and associated religious stressors and doubts, may uncover some of the individual differences underlying radical conversions.

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... First, as noted, most studies have focused on religious conversion or increased religiosity. Scant findings suggest that attachment is also relevant to decreases in religiosity (Granqvist, 2002;Granqvist & Hagekull, 2003;Pirutinsky, 2009), and thus probably also to apostasy. Second, prior research has been based almost exclusively on Christian samples, although one study of Israeli Jewish converts yielded converging evidence for the emotional compensation path (Pirutinsky, 2009). ...
... Scant findings suggest that attachment is also relevant to decreases in religiosity (Granqvist, 2002;Granqvist & Hagekull, 2003;Pirutinsky, 2009), and thus probably also to apostasy. Second, prior research has been based almost exclusively on Christian samples, although one study of Israeli Jewish converts yielded converging evidence for the emotional compensation path (Pirutinsky, 2009). This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. ...
... Second, our participants were Israeli Jews. Although Pirutinsky (2009) has found conceptually converging findings among converts to Orthodox Judaism, our apostasy findings need to be replicated using other Jewish samples (e.g., American Jews) and participants from other religious denominations. Subsequent research may also benefit from distinguishing between patterns of radical religious change and religious fluctuations. ...
Article
We studied attachment-related variations in the process of apostasy (abandonment of religion) and compared these variations to those occurring in religious conversion. A sample of 280 Israeli Jews who had undergone religious change (apostasy or conversion) completed scales assessing attachment orientations, themes/motives and other characteristics of religious change, and well-being. Attachment orientations had similar associations with the two forms of religious change. Specifically, attachment anxiety was associated with reports of more sudden changes, more rejection of parents’ religiosity, and more emotional compensation themes. Attachment-related avoidance was associated with weaker exploration and socialization themes. Moreover, compensation themes, for both forms of religious change, were associated with lower well-being at present and a heightened link between attachment anxiety and distress. Socialization themes were related to greater well-being at present and a weakened link between attachment anxiety and distress. Implications for an attachment-theoretical approach to the study of life transformations are discussed.
... Some of the findings reported and arguments advanced in the normative attachment-and-religion sections of this chapter have been found to hold in particular for individuals who were likely to have experienced parental insensitivity while growing up, whether their estimated attachment-related experiences were based on self-reports (e.g., Granqvist, 1998Granqvist, , 2002Granqvist & Hagekull, 1999, 2003Halama, Gasparikova, & Sabo, 2013;Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990;Pirutinsky, 2009;Schnitker, Porter, Emmons, & Barrett, 2012) or assessed with the AAI (Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007). For example, sudden religious conversions, the most pronounced examples of religious drama, are associated with estimates of parental insensitivity. ...
... For example, in an AAI study, participants whose parents were estimated by an independent coder to have been relatively less loving/sensitive self-reported more sudden and intense increases in religiousness (Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007). Notably, although all studies cited earlier were conducted on largely Christian samples, a later study of converts to Orthodox Judaism provided much needed crossreligion evidence for the association between attachment insecurity and sudden conversion (Pirutinsky, 2009). ...
... Also, whereas past studies predominantly used samples of convenience, which were often drawn from student populations, recent studies have increasingly used more careful sample recruitment strategies and well-defined study populations (e.g., Cassibba et al., 2008;Reinert & Edwards, 2009;Schnitker et al., 2012). In addition, although past research was almost exclusively based on Christian samples in the Western world, recent studies have also used non-Christian samples from other parts of the world (e.g., Granqvist, Mikulincer, et al., 2012;Pirutinsky, 2009). Finally, whereas most past studies used explicit self-report assessments of both religion and attachment constructs, indirect, implicit assessments have been increasingly added to the research in recent years (e.g., Cassibba et al., 2008Cassibba et al., , 2013Granqvist et al., 2009;Granqvist, Mikulincer, et al., 2012; see also Zahl & Gibson, 2012). ...
Chapter
This chapter is divided into five major sec- tions. In the first, we argue that people’s perceived relationships with God meet the defining criteria of attachment relationships reasonably well, and hence function psychologically much as other attachments do. We examine in the second sec- tion lifespan maturational issues involved in the development of attachment and religion. These first two sections deal with normative/typical as- pects of the attachment–religion connection. In the third section, we review empirical connec- tions between religion and individual differences in attachment. This section is subdivided into two subsections—the first focusing on a “com- pensation” pathway and the second describing a “correspondence” pathway to religion. We address in the fourth major section research findings and implications of the religion-as-attachment model with respect to psychological outcomes. In the final major section, which is new to this edition, we address the current state of theory and research on the attachment–religion connection.
... Some of the findings reported and arguments advanced in the normative attachment-and-religion sections of this chapter have been found to hold in particular for individuals who were likely to have experienced parental insensitivity while growing up, whether their estimated attachment-related experiences were based on self-reports (e.g., Granqvist, 1998Granqvist, , 2002Granqvist & Hagekull, 1999, 2003Halama, Gasparikova, & Sabo, 2013;Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990;Pirutinsky, 2009;Schnitker, Porter, Emmons, & Barrett, 2012) or assessed with the AAI (Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007). For example, sudden religious conversions, the most pronounced examples of religious drama, are associated with estimates of parental insensitivity. ...
... For example, in an AAI study, participants whose parents were estimated by an independent coder to have been relatively less loving/sensitive self-reported more sudden and intense increases in religiousness (Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007). Notably, although all studies cited earlier were conducted on largely Christian samples, a later study of converts to Orthodox Judaism provided much needed crossreligion evidence for the association between attachment insecurity and sudden conversion (Pirutinsky, 2009). ...
... Also, whereas past studies predominantly used samples of convenience, which were often drawn from student populations, recent studies have increasingly used more careful sample recruitment strategies and well-defined study populations (e.g., Cassibba et al., 2008;Reinert & Edwards, 2009;Schnitker et al., 2012). In addition, although past research was almost exclusively based on Christian samples in the Western world, recent studies have also used non-Christian samples from other parts of the world (e.g., Granqvist, Mikulincer, et al., 2012;Pirutinsky, 2009). Finally, whereas most past studies used explicit self-report assessments of both religion and attachment constructs, indirect, implicit assessments have been increasingly added to the research in recent years (e.g., Cassibba et al., 2008Cassibba et al., , 2013Granqvist et al., 2009;Granqvist, Mikulincer, et al., 2012; see also Zahl & Gibson, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
This chapter is divided into five major sections. The first brief section describes the observational points of departure used to launch the idea that God and other deities are often perceived as attachment figures. In the second section, we argue that an attachment model of religion provides more than an interesting analogy: Perceived relationships with God meet the defining criteria of attachment relationships reasonably well, and hence function psychologically much as other attachments do. The third major section examines maturational issues involved in the ontogenetic development of attachment and religion. These first three sections deal with normative aspects of attachment and religion. In the fourth section, we review the empirical connections between religion and individual differences in interpersonal attachments. This section is subdivided into two subsections—the first focusing on a "compensation" pathway to religion (via distress regulation in the context of insecure attachment and experiences from insensitive caregiving), and the second describing a "correspondence" pathway to religion (via secure attachment and experiences with sensitive and religious caregivers). Before we conclude, the final major section addresses some research findings and implications of the religion-as-attachment model with respect to psychological outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... Studies have shown insensitive caregiving experiences and attachment insecurities to be associated with religious instability, especially sudden-intense religious conversion occurring in life contexts of turmoil [31]. Religious instability has been associated with attachment insecurity as assessed with self-report measures of attachment in adulthoodrecalled attachment to parents [32] and current romantic attachment [26] as well as with the AAI [21]. These links have been found in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies [33,34] and diverse cultural contexts (e.g., monotheistic faiths, countries) [26,32]. ...
... Religious instability has been associated with attachment insecurity as assessed with self-report measures of attachment in adulthoodrecalled attachment to parents [32] and current romantic attachment [26] as well as with the AAI [21]. These links have been found in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies [33,34] and diverse cultural contexts (e.g., monotheistic faiths, countries) [26,32]. Specifically, a perceived relationship with God may help regulate attachment system hyperactivation, which may illustrate a compensatory use of religion. ...
Article
Full-text available
Attachment theory deals with the development and dynamics of interpersonal affectional bonds. It also provides a framework for understanding individuals’ relationship with God, which is central to religion. We review basic concepts of attachment theory and survey research that has examined religion both in terms of normative attachment processes and individual differences in attachment. We cite evidence from cross-sectional, experimental, and longitudinal studies showing that many religious individuals experience God as a source of resilience (e.g., a safe haven and secure base). We also summarize proposed attachment-related developmental pathways to religion. Finally, we review research on religion and mental health undertaken from an attachment viewpoint and discuss future directions.
... Research has consistently documented that parental religiousness is an important moderator variable in the attachment-religion connection ( Granqvist, 1998( Granqvist, , 2002( Granqvist, , 2005Granqvist & Hagekull, 1999 ;Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007 ;Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990 ;Pirutinsky, 2009 ;Reinert & Edwards, 2009 ;Wright, 2008 ). More specifi cally, memories of a secure attachment history as well as current secure attachment are linked to a high degree of parentoffspring similarity in many aspects of religiousness and spirituality. ...
... This connection was reported in the fi rst study of attachment and religion ( Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990 ). Since then, the fi ndings have been supported by a meta-analysis of all studies conducted up to 2004, including almost 1,500 participants ( Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2004 ), and in a later study of converts to orthodox Judaism ( Pirutinsky, 2009 ). Also, in a more recent AAI study, participants whose parents were estimated to have been relatively less loving reported more sudden and intense increases in religiousness ( Granqvist, Ivarsson, et al., 2007 ). ...
... A small but consistent body of research indicates that religious converts report higher levels of attachment insecurities-such as an anxious preoccupation with close relationships or an avoidant dismissal of the need for close relationships (see Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2008, for a review and discussion). Research among Orthodox returnees corroborates these accounts, indicating that returnees reported higher attachment anxiety and avoidance than Orthodox Jewish nonreturnees (Pirutinsky, 2009). We believe that these insecurities might be heightened by the return process, which involves loss of past sources of security, feelings of rejection and social exclusion from the nonreligious family of origin, and worries and doubts about being accepted by the Orthodox religious community, and may then explain returnee's problems in family functioning and heightened parenting stress. ...
... Qualitative research and clinical reports (e.g., Schnall & Pelcovitz, 2010) suggest that returnees face particular challenges in these areas, which may be explained by difficulties in acculturation to religious-culture norms and the establishment of new social connections (Danzger, 1989;Sands et al., 2007). Research also suggests that insecure attachment (Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2008;Pirutinsky, 2009) and fluctuating religiosity (Paloutzian et al., 1999) among converts may be additional sources of risk. The current study therefore investigated family functioning and parenting stress among Orthodox Jewish returnees, and explored the relevance of three explanatory factorsattachment insecurities, lack of community integration, and religious discord within the family. ...
Article
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The role of religious conversion in marriages and family functioning has been little explored. The current study examined family functioning and parenting stress among returnees to Orthodox Judaism with adolescent children. Possible explanatory factors for difficulties, such as attachment insecurity, religious discord in families, and poor community integration, were also explored. Randomly selected samples of returnee and nonreturnee Orthodox Jews with adolescent children (N = 1632) completed measures of attachment, community integration, marital functioning, and parenting stress. Results indicate that returnees report greater family disengagement (lack of warmth), family chaos (lack of control), and parenting stress. They also reported higher religious discord, higher attachment insecurity, and poorer community integration, which all correlated with higher parenting stress, family disengagement (lack of warmth), and family chaos (lack of control). Moreover, differences between returnees and nonreturnees on family functioning and parenting stress were largely mediated by differences in the explanatory factors. These results substantiate previous anecdotal reports and suggest possible avenues for intervention among Orthodox returnees with family difficulties. They also support the relevance of religious factors in family functioning.
... However, Rosmarin et al. (2009b) found that participants with high levels of spiritual struggles reported increased mental health, suggesting that struggles may be associated with post-traumatic growth among Orthodox Jews. Moreover, participants in previous longitudinal studies were almost exclusively Christian, and given Orthodox Judaism's profound integration of religion into everyday cognition, emotion, and behavior (see Pirutinsky, 2009), it is particularly difficult to generalize causal and temporal patterns from other groups. ...
... n = 6), and Australia (2.6%; n = 2). Self-reported religious affiliation in the sample varied with 8.8% Hassidic (n = 7), 46.3% Yeshiva Orthodox (n =37), and 45% Modern Orthodox (n = 36; see Pirutinsky, 2009). ...
Article
Cross sectional research suggests that negative religious coping (e.g., anger at God and religious disengagement) strongly correlates with depression and anxiety. However, causality is difficult to establish as negative coping can accompany, cause, or result from distress. Among Orthodox Jews, some studies have found correlations between negative religious coping and anxiety and depression, while others found that high levels of negative coping related with decreased distress. We therefore examined longitudinal relationships between negative coping and depressive symptoms among Orthodox Jews. Participants (80 Orthodox Jews) completed the Jewish Religious Coping Scale and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies' Depression Scale at two times. Using Structural Equation Modeling, we compared four models describing possible causal patterns. Negative religious coping and depressive symptoms were linearly related. Furthermore, a model including negative coping as a predictor of future depression fit the data best and did not significantly differ from a saturated model. This research was limited by reliance on self-report measures, an internet sample, and examination of only negative religious coping. Consistent with a "primary spiritual struggles" conceptualization, negative religious coping appears to precede and perhaps cause future depression among Orthodox Jews. Clinical interventions should target spiritual struggles, and more research integrating this construct into theory and practice is warranted.
... abandoning religion after some time of religious exploration) if their parents had been non-religious but converted to religion if their parents had been religious. Similarly, Pirutinsky (2009) found that non-converts scored higher on a measure of secure attachment history with parents than did converts (cf. Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2004). ...
Article
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I argue that attachment relationships, and particularly secure ones, are important contexts for social learning and cultural transmission. Bowlby originally treated the attachment-behavioral system as serving only one evolutionary function: protection, via physical proximity. Yet the time is ripe to consider learning, especially social learning, as an additional functional consequence of attachment. Updated accordingly, attachment theory has the potential to serve as a much-needed developmental anchor for models of cultural evolution and gene-culture co-evolution. To support my arguments, I review progress in evolutionary science since Bowlby’s lifetime, highlighting the growing recognition of ecological flexibility and the cultural embeddedness of animal behavior. I also review research pointing to a facilitating role of secure attachment relationships for social learning from caregivers among humans. For illustrational purposes, I show how one important aspect of human culture – religion – is culturally transmitted within attachment relationships, and of how the generalization of attachment-related working models biases the cultural transmission of religion from parents to offspring. I end the paper with a call for empirical research to test the role of attachment in cultural transmission beyond religion.
... Previous research suggests that when Orthodox Jewish participants were asked to visualize and write about their own death, they reported lower religiosity and did not discuss death in attachment terms such as "returning to" or "reuniting with" God (Pirutinsky, 2009a). In contrast, converts to Orthodox Judaism, who appear more likely to use God as a compensatory attachment figure (Pirutinsky, 2009b), reported higher religiosity and discussed death in attachment terms when exposed to this experimental manipulation. ...
Article
Research suggests that religion and spirituality generally correlate positively with various aspects of mental health, although mediators remain unclear. We explored whether attachment to God is a unique predictor above and beyond other key religious variables within a Jewish sample. Given the religion-as-culture perspective suggesting that Judaism can be characterized as primarily focused on behavior versus internal mental experiences, we expected that attachment to God would be less relevant to Jewish mental health. Surprisingly, attachment emerged as the strongest predictor of mental health among both more traditional Orthodox Jewish participants and less traditional non-Orthodox Jews. Although additional cross-cultural research is clearly needed, our results suggest that even in more behaviorally focused religious cultures, attachment to God is a key mediator of the protective effects of religion and spirituality.
... Bowlby (1969) considered attachment as the primary motivational system for providing emotional security. In their comparison of attachment theory with Buddhist psychology, Sahdra and Shaver (2013) highlight that attachment theory is influential in Christianity (Kirkparick, 2005) and Judaism (Granqvist et al, 2012;Pirutinsky, 2009) because these religions are built upon personal relationship with a god. However, this does not apply to Buddhism. ...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between spirituality and corporate social responsibility (CSR) from a Buddhist perspective. The paper addresses critical issues in CSR and highlights how the concept of Buddhist skilful means can be applied to tackle such issues. Skilful means is highlighted among various Buddhist concepts because it represents a context-sensitive and practical approach that can be effectively applied in CSR practice. Design/methodology/approach The paper reviews scholarly conversations on the challenges faced by CSR in contemporary business management and justifies the application of Buddhist principles, especially skilful means, to tackle such issues. The paper draws upon a wide range of Buddhist teachings and Sutras to propose a Buddhist skilful means approach to CSR. Findings Studies show that CSR is a highly contextualised term. Its definition and implementation differ in various contexts. Buddhism is set apart from other religions by its flexibility in practice and contextualisation. Further, the non-attachment that sits at the heart of the skilful means allows the exploration of different CSR practices to respond effectively to local contexts. Practical implications The paper proposes practical means for CSR practices adopted from a number of Buddhist qualities and principles in response to challenges for the practice of CSR. Originality/value Buddhist concepts have yet to be discovered or included in major scholarly conversations because of their contradiction of some well-known Western concepts and theories. Skilful means, including the principle of non-attachment, is a Buddhist approach. This paper argues that skilful means is a good fit with CSR as it has practical applications that can address issues identified in relation to CSR and organisational management practices.
... The ZAs are considered a unique population among rescue workers and helping professionals. ZAs are part of an Orthodox sector which constitutes a separate Israeli subculture, governed by strict observance and subordination to religious law (Huppert, Siev, & Kushner, 2007; Pirutinsky, 2009). Thus, ZAs are motivated by the religious imperative to preserve life and provide burial for the dead. ...
Article
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This study assessed posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), burn-out (BO), and compassion satisfaction (CS) among Israeli body handlers. We aimed to explore differences between two groups of Orthodox Jewish male volunteers: the “ZAKA” body handlers (ZAs: n = 102), and a comparison group of charity workers (CWs: n = 101). Furthermore, we assessed the contribution of two potential resilience buffers—sense of coherence (SOC) and spirituality at the workplace (SAW)—to PTSS, BO, and CS among these volunteers via self-report measures. Surprisingly, results show that ZAs reported significantly lower levels of PTSS and BO as compared with CWs. ZAs also reported significantly higher levels of CS as compared with CWs. Importantly, SOC mediated the link between groups and PTSS and BO. Both SOC and SAW mediated the link between groups and CS. These findings suggest that “ZAKA” body handlers demonstrate substantial resilience following repeated exposure to death and atrocities. To reduce work-related psychological distress and improve CS, SOC and SAW should be taken into account in the process of recruitment and training of body handlers.
... Earlier work, summarized by Kirkpatrick (2005) and influenced by his early work with Spilka, made good use of attachment theory in the study of mostly Christian beliefs and practices, partly because Christians consider themselves to have a " personal " relationship with a god who is conceptualized somewhat like a large, very powerful parental figure. More recently, researchers have examined similar attachment-related processes in samples from other traditions, such as Judaism (e.g., Granqvist, Mikulincer, Gewirtz, & Shaver, 2012; Pirutinsky, 2009) and New Age spirituality (reviewed by, e.g., Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2008). Buddhism is different from other religions involving faith in god (e.g., Brahman in Hinduism and God in Abrahamic traditions). ...
Article
We focus on some similarities and differences between attachment theory and Buddhist psychology. Both systems highlight the importance of giving and receiving love and of minimizing anxious clinging or avoidant aloofness and suppression of unwanted mental experiences. However, the two differ in their conception of security in adulthood. Attachment theory suggests that security is rooted in mental representations of a self that has been reliably loved and cared for in close relationships. In Buddhist psychology, security is conceptualized as freedom from static or rigid views of self and others, and is cultivated by countering, often through formal meditation practices, our habitual tendencies of reifying or solidifying aspects of our ever-changing phenomenal experience. “Nonattachment” or release from mental fixations is a key construct in this process. It is empirically distinct from its Western counterpart of felt security. We discuss implications of the two systems for a unified model of optimal adult development and beneficial interventions involving social and introspective routes to reduced defensiveness, greater self- and other-oriented compassion, greater mental clarity, and more prosocial behavior.
... Insecure individuals also are more likely than secure individuals to report spiritual/religious struggles and to undergo changes in religious belief and practice over time (Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2004). Moreover, research suggests that some individuals with insecure attachment utilise religion as an emotional regulation strategy (Brown, Nesse, House, & Utz, 2004;Granqvist, 2005), including a study suggesting that within the orthodox community, those with insecure attachment are more likely to utilise representations of God to alleviate experimentally induced anxiety (Pirutinsky, 2009). Within the religion-centric orthodox Jewish community, attachment appears to influence the family largely through its relationship with increased religious conflict. ...
Article
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While prior research suggests that religion influences relationships positively, it may also be a source of conflict. This may be particularly relevant in religion-centric cultures and in families with individuating adolescent children. The current research analysed data from 789 orthodox Jewish couples residing throughout Israel and we hypothesised that religious conflict is related to lower family functioning and higher parenting stress, and that it is more frequent among couples with insecure attachment. Results of a structural equation model indicated that religious conflict was significantly associated with outcome variables within various religious subgroups, and that attachment insecurity was related to higher levels of conflict and was fully or partially mediated by religious conflict. This suggests that within the orthodox community, religious conflict is an important correlate, and perhaps cause, of family dysfunction. Future research exploring causality, cross-cultural relevance, comparability to other forms of conflict, and effective treatment appears warranted.
... Third, although the religion-as-attachment model should be applicable across theistic faith traditions that emphasize a personal deity who is portrayed as being personally involved in the lives of humans, the attachment and religion research conducted to date has almost uniquely involved Christians in the Western world (Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2008, in press; for a rare exception, see Pirutinsky, 2009). The extent to which the religion-as-attachment model is, in fact, applicable to other faith traditions, such as Judaism, thus remains largely unknown. ...
Article
Four studies examined implications of attachment theory for psychological aspects of religion among Israeli Jews. Study 1 replicated previous correlational findings indicating correspondence among interpersonal attachment orientations, attachment to God, and image of God. Studies 2-4 were subliminal priming experiments, which documented both normative and individual-difference effects. Regarding normative effects, findings indicated that threat priming heightened cognitive access to God-related concepts in a lexical decision task (Study 2); priming with "God" heightened cognitive access to positive, secure base-related concepts in the same task (Study 3); and priming with a religious symbol caused neutral material to be better liked (Study 4). Regarding individual differences, interpersonal attachment-related avoidance reduced the normative effects (i.e., avoidant participants had lower implicit access to God as a safe haven and secure base). Findings were mostly independent of level of religiousness. The present experiments considerably extend the psychological literature on connections between attachment constructs and aspects of religion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Chapter
Attachment theory emphasizes the importance to human beings of socio-emotional bonds with available, sensitive, and supportive others for effective emotion regulation, mental health, and psychosocial functioning. Originally, the theory focused on the quality of the infant–parent relationship, but it was extended to friendships and romantic relationships in adulthood and to a person’s relationship with God. In this chapter, we focus on an attachment theory perspective on religion and spirituality and argue that attachment theory and research provide a useful framework for studying and understanding the development of religious beliefs and a believer’s relationship to God. We open with a brief outline of attachment theory and research. We then review research showing that a believer’s perceived relationship with God meets the defining criteria for attachment bonds and hence that God can serve as a protective and supportive attachment figure. The chapter also considers evidence for the correspondence model that suggests that attachment to God mirrors peoples’ other attachment bonds, as well as evidence for the motivated compensation model that suggests that attachment to God may be used to substitute for insecure attachment bonds. Finally, we review research on connections between particular religious phenomena and attachment-related individual differences in the “earthly” realm of interpersonal relationships.
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Religious coping has been found to help people in stressful situations. It takes place within a specific cultural religious/context yet its measurement has not always been adapted to the context of the study population. The aim of this study was to develop an instrument to measure religious coping among religious Jews—a population that has received little research attention—and assess the associations of religious coping strategies with emotional adjustment. The study was based on quantitative data gathered from 332 religious Jewish women, who were coping with stress. The findings support the utilization of three religious coping strategies by the participants: Seeking the Support of God, Seeking the Support of Rabbis, and Seeking the Support of the Community, which were found to be directly correlated with better emotional adjustment. This instrument can assist in evaluating and understanding religious coping with stressful situations and in culturally adapting psychosocial interventions to promote emotional adjustment.
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In this chapter, we provide an overview of our studies that have explored the relations between Indonesian Muslim adolescents’ religiosity and spirituality with their social competence and their relationships with peers and parents. We first reviewed our findings that individual differences in adolescent religiosity and spirituality (SR) was associated with multiple aspects of competence including positive associations with peer acceptance, prosocial behavior, regulation, self-esteem, and academic achievement and negative associations with externalizing behavior, loneliness, and aggression. We then reviewed studies suggesting that religious adolescents tended to develop friendships with others of similar religiosity. These associations predicted that adolescents who were friends with highly religious peers increased their religiosity over time. Finally, we looked at the interconnection between parent–adolescent relations and adolescent SR and adjustment. Parental warmth moderated the relation between parent religiosity and adolescent SR, and SR mediated the relation between parental warmth, parental religiosity, and adolescent prosocial behavior. These results are consistent with our view that in this highly religious community, religion is strongly associated with multiple aspects of adolescents’ lives. Second, we argue that adolescent religiosity must necessarily be understood within a relationship context, an idea that is consistent with an ecological perspective on child and adolescent religiousness.
Chapter
In this attachment-theoretical chapter, I highlight relations between attachment and religious development in adolescence, while taking cultural implications into account. I argue that adolescence is a sensitive phase of development related to both attachment and religiosity. This period is often associated with transfer of attachment functions from parents to age-mates. In the religious realm, this period may be linked to either increased religiosity (e.g., conversion) or to disengagement from religion. During adolescence, an attachment-like relationship with God may also develop. Furthermore, on the basis of empirical studies, I discuss the implications of individual differences in attachment security for religious development in adolescence. I distinguish between two notable developmental pathways: secure attachment to religious caregivers as a basis for religious stability (“correspondence pathway”) and insecure attachment to caregivers as a basis of distress regulation through religion (“compensation pathway”). In the first case, believers are more likely to experience well-being; in the latter case, religion may serve as a protective factor in development. I also take into account possible negative effects of religion on adjustment. Finally, I discuss the cultural generalizability versus specificity of each of the central arguments in the chapter.
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In this article we review previous work on religious conversions, relate this work to attachment system dynamics, and present a meta-analysis of results from 11 cross-national questionnaire studies (N = 1465) that have investigated links between religious conversions and perceived childhood attachment history with parents. Two general hypotheses derived from attachment theory were tested. Based on the compensation hypothesis, it was predicted that sudden religious conversions would be associated on average with insecure, rather than secure, attachment histories. Based on the 2-level correspondence hypothesis, it was predicted that nonsudden conversions and gradual religious changes would be associated with a secure attachment history. Both predictions were supported in the meta-analyses, with small to medium effect sizes. It was concluded that attachment theory is a valuable framework for integrating previous findings and guiding future research on religious conversions, but that several methodological improvements should be made in future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This chapter is divided into five major sections. The first brief section describes the observational points of departure used to launch the idea that God and other deities are often perceived as attachment figures. In the second section, we argue that an attachment model of religion provides more than an interesting analogy: Perceived relationships with God meet the defining criteria of attachment relationships reasonably well, and hence function psychologically much as other attachments do. The third major section examines maturational issues involved in the ontogenetic development of attachment and religion. These first three sections deal with normative aspects of attachment and religion. In the fourth section, we review the empirical connections between religion and individual differences in interpersonal attachments. This section is subdivided into two subsections—the first focusing on a "compensation" pathway to religion (via distress regulation in the context of insecure attachment and experiences from insensitive caregiving), and the second describing a "correspondence" pathway to religion (via secure attachment and experiences with sensitive and religious caregivers). Before we conclude, the final major section addresses some research findings and implications of the religion-as-attachment model with respect to psychological outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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An Introduction to the Psychology of Religion and Coping. Part I: A Perspective on Religion. The Sacred and the Search for Significance. Religious Pathways and Religious Destinations. Part II: A Perspective on Coping. An Introduction to the Concept of Coping. The Flow of Coping. Part III: The Religion and Coping Connection. When People Turn to Religion. When They Turn Away. The Many Faces of Religion in Coping. Religion and the Mechanisms of Coping - The Transformation of Significance. Part IV: Evaluative and Practical Implications. Does it Work? Religion and the Outcomes of Coping. When Religion Fails - Problems of Integration in the Process of Coping. Putting Religion into Practice.
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Evaluated the contribution of several cognitive factors (tolerance of ambiguity, impermeability of present belief system, and cognitive quest) and emotional factors (perception of childhood relationship with parents, and childhood and adolescence stress and trauma) in precipitating religious conversion. Ss were 40 religious converts (aged 20–40 yrs) from 4 religious groups (Jewish, Catholic, Bahai, and Hare Krishna) and 30 age-matched religiously affiliated nonconverts (Jewish and Catholic). Converts' present belief systems were judged as more impermeable; but contrary to the cognitive hypotheses, the groups did not differ on several measures of tolerance of ambiguity and in degree of cognitive quest during adolescence. Emotional factors were more closely associated with religious conversion. Converts' perceptions of their parents were markedly more negative, and incidence of father absence was higher in the convert sample. Converts reported more traumatic events during childhood and described their childhood and adolescence as unhappy. In the interview with converts, personal stress was also reported more often than cognitive quest as characterizing the 2-yr period preceding conversion and as involved in the immediate consequences of conversion. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The question of whether religious conversion causes changes in someone’s personality is examined in light of two bodies of literature—the research on personality change and the research on conversion. When the theory and research on personality change is applied to the question of whether conversion causes such change, the answer depends on what level of personality is of concern. Research on the relation between religious conversion and a variety of behavioral, attitudinal, emotional, and lifestyle variables is consistent with this conclusion. Although conversion seems to have minimal effect on elemental functions such as the Big Five traits or temperaments, it can result in profound, life transforming changes in mid-level functions such as goals, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, and in the more self-defining personality functions such as identity and life meaning. This seems to be so whether the process of conversion is sudden or gradual, active or passive, and to a traditional Western or Eastern religion or to a new religious movement. However, most of the research is retrospective and cross-sectional, and no systematic program of research has ever been sustained. Suggestions for the form of future research are made, and a model for integrating the many factors that must be taken into account and for guiding future research is sketched.
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The authors undertook this study to enhance psychiatric understanding of contemporary charismatic religious sects. After a pilot study, a representative sample of members of the Unification Church (N = 237) completed a 216-item structured questionnaire. Respondents were below the mean for an age- and sex-matched group on a psychological general well-being scale, and they reported significantly greater neurotic distress before conversion. The authors discuss correlates of an improved emotional state following conversion and employ attribution theory, drawn from social psychology, to put the conversion process into a psychiatric perspective.
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We propose the theory that religious cultures vary in individualistic and collectivistic aspects of religiousness and spirituality. Study 1 showed that religion for Jews is about community and biological descent but about personal beliefs for Protestants. Intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity were intercorrelated and endorsed differently by Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in a pattern that supports the theory that intrinsic religiosity relates to personal religion, whereas extrinsic religiosity stresses community and ritual (Studies 2 and 3). Important life experiences were likely to be social for Jews but focused on God for Protestants, with Catholics in between (Study 4). We conclude with three perspectives in understanding the complex relationships between religion and culture.
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Evidence-based practice suggests that clinicians should integrate the best available research with clinical judgment and patient values. Treatment of religious patients with scrupulosity provides a paradigmatic example of such integration. The purpose of this study is to describe potential adaptations to make exposure and response prevention, the first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, acceptable and consistent with the values of members of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. We believe that understanding these challenges will enhance the clinician's ability to increase patient motivation and participation in therapy and thereby provide more effective treatment for these and other religious patients.
Religious conversion and spiritual transformation: A meaning-systems analysis
  • R F Paloutzian
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George, C., Kaplan, N., & Main, M. (1996). Adult Attachment Interview (3rd ed.). Unpublished manuscript, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.
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