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The personal and normative image of God: the role of religious culture and mental health

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This article focuses on the difference between the personal God image and the God image that people perceive as normative, that is to say, the God image they believe they should have according to religious culture. A sample of 544 Dutch respondents, of which 244 received psychotherapy, completed the Dutch Questionnaire of God Images (QGI). In general, there appeared to be a discrepancy between the personal and the normative God image. Whether discrepancies were experienced as conflictive was related to religious denomination and mental health. Conflictive feelings were associated with lower religious saliency and higher educational level. Moreover, they were associated with mental health per se and the interaction between mental health and denomination, with patients reporting more conflicts than normals except in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox-Reformed group, where patients and non-patients hardly differed in the experience of conflict.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Practical Theology, Protestant Theological University, Kampen, the Netherlands; 2: Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands; 3: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

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