Images of God, Forgiveness and Attachment Among Hindus, Muslims and Christians in India

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mark M. Leach

Advisor Department



Images of God (IOG) have long been examined in the psychology of religion literature and have been found to vary depending on a variety of factors. Religion and attachment styles are two such variables that influence an individual's IOG. Most of the IOG research however, has been U.S. and Christian based. In order to expand our understanding of God images, the present study examined the relationship between IOG among different religious groups (Hindus, Muslims, Christians) and IOG and attachment styles within a diverse culture, India. Forgiveness is another construct that has been receiving increasing attention in recent years. Though often thought to be a religious construct, there are few studies examining the relationship between religion and forgiveness. The present study also explored the relationship between forgiveness and the three religious groups and explored if attachment styles influence forgiveness patterns among Asian Indians. The results indicated while Asian Indians view God as possessing less neuroticism in general, Christians saw God as being lower on Neuroticism than Muslims, and possessing more Agreeableness and Conscientiousness than Hindu and Muslim participants. Agreeableness was found to be the lone factor that distinguished between secure and avoidant attachment orientations. With regard to forgiveness, there were no differences between religions in terms of forgiveness. Further, secure attachment was related to increased forgiveness of self and situations, while avoidantly attached individuals were found to be less forgiving of self and situations. There were no differences between the attachment groups when forgiveness of others was considered. Attachment was not found to moderate the relationship between religion and IOG, or the relationship between religion and forgiveness. The results of this study were consistent with previous findings and have expanded the research in the psychology of religion area.