Predicting guilt from irrational beliefs, religious affiliation and religiosity

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The relationship of the core irrational beliefs of rational-emotive therapy, religious affiliation and religiosity to guilt in 281 adult Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and persons of no religious affiliation was studied. Irrational belief endorsement, as measured by the Personal Beliefs Test (Kassinove, 1986), accounted for 26% of the explained variance and was the best predictor of total guilt, as measured by the Problematic Situations Questionnaire (Klass, 1982). There was no support for the hypothesis that “selfdirected shoulds” would show a stronger relationship to guilt as compared with other irrational beliefs and, as predicted, only irrational beliefs and not knowledge of RET principles predicted guilt. Total guilt was not different among the religions; however, religiosity was found to be a significant guilt predictor \((\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{\(\smash{\scriptscriptstyle-}\)}}{r} = .20;\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{\(\smash{\scriptscriptstyle-}\)}}{p}< .001)\) . It was concluded that irrationality may be a very important but not primary correlate of guilt. Replication with a clinical population is suggested.

Thomas Demaria, Ph.D., is currently a school psychologist in the Rockville Centre Public Schools in New York, and is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City
Howard Kassinove, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Director for Doctoral Training in Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University in New York. He is a Fellow of the Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy and the American Psychological Association and holds the ABPP diploma in Clinical Psychology
This paper is based on a doctoral dissertation completed by the first author at Hofstra University under the sponsorship of the second author. Thanks to Gina Bonfigli for helping with the collection and coding of the data. Special thanks to Charles A. Dill, Ph.D. for assisting with the statistical analyses.