Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 66, Issue 2, pp 269–280 | Cite as

Positive God Images and Positive Emotions toward God: Exploring Variations among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics

  • Neal Krause
  • Gail Ironson


How people view God is an important part of religious life. The purpose of this study is to see if four positive God image measures and two measures of positive emotions toward God vary among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. The data come from a recent nationwide survey in the United States (N = 2500). The findings reveal that, compared to Whites and Hispanics, Blacks have more positive image of God scores on all four measures. The data indicate that Blacks are also more likely than Whites and Hispanics to have strong positive emotions toward God. In contrast, consistent differences between Hispanics and Whites failed to emerge across all of the study measures.


God images Emotions toward God Race/ethnicity 



Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.


  1. Althoff, A. (2006). Religious identities of Latin American immigrants in Chicago: Preliminary findings from field research. University of Chicago Divinity School.
  2. Becker, H. (1963). The outsiders. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Billingsley, A. (1999). Mighty like a river: The black church and social reform. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bradshaw, M., Ellison, C. G., & Flannelly, K. J. (2008). Prayer, god imagery, and symptoms of psychopathology. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47, 644–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burns, J. M. (1994). The Mexican Catholic community in California. In J. P. Dolan & G. M. Hinojosa (Eds.), Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church 1900–1965 (pp. 129–221). South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carrasco, D. (1990). Religions of Mesoamerica: Cosmovision and ceremonial centers. Long Grove: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Hispanic or Latino populations.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Hispanic and latino populations. Centers for disease control and prevention.
  9. Davis, E. H., Murphy, G. L., & Mauch, J. C. (2013). God images and god concepts: Definitions, development, and dynamics. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5, 51–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Degelman, D., & Lynn, D. (1995). The development and preliminary validation of the belief in divine intervention scale. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25, 37–44.Google Scholar
  11. Elizondo, V. (2010). Spiritual writings. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.Google Scholar
  12. Fernandez, E. C. (2007). Mexican American Catholics. New York: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fetzer Institute/National Institute on Aging Working Group (1999). Multidimensional measurement of religion/spirituality for use in health research. Kalamazoo: John E. Fetzer Institute.Google Scholar
  14. Glock, C. Y., & Stark, R. (1965). Religion and society in tension. Chicago: Rand McNally and Co..Google Scholar
  15. Hoffman, L., Hoffman, J. L., Dillard, K., Clark, J., Acoba, J., Williams, F., & Jones, T. T. (2008). Diversity and the god image: Examining ethnic differences in the experience of God for a college-age population. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36, 26–41.Google Scholar
  16. Ironson, G., Stuetzie, R., Ironson, E., Balbin, E., Kremer, H., George, A., Schneiderman, N., & Fletcher, M. A. (2011). View of God as benevolent and forgiving or punishing and judgmental predicts HIV disease progression. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34, 414–425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Koenig, H. G., King, D. E., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Krause, N. (2005). God-mediated control and psychological well-being in late life. Research on Aging, 27, 136–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krause, N. (2008). Aging in the church: How social relationships affect health. West Conshohocker: Templeton Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  20. Krause, N. (2012). Feelings of gratitude toward God among older whites, older african-americans, and older mexican americans. Research on Aging, 34, 156–173.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Krause, N. (2016). Assessing supportive exchanges inside and outside religious institutions: Exploring variations among Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks. Social Indicators Research, 128, 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Krause, N., Emmons, R. A., & Ironson, G. (2015). Benevolent images of God, gratitude, and physical health status. Journal of Religion and Health, 54, 1503–1519.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Leon, L. D. (2004). La Llorona’s children. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Levin, J. S., Taylor, R. J., & Chatters, L. M. (1994). Race and gender differences in religiosity among older adults: Findings from four national surveys. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 49, S137–S145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lo, C. C., Tenorio, K. A., & Cheng, T. C. (2012). Racial differences in co-occurring substance use and serious psychological distress: The roles of marriage and religiosity. Substance Use & Misuse, 47, 734–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matovina, T. M. (1991). Liturgy and popular expressions of faith: A look at the works of Virgil Elizondo. Worship, 65, 436–444.Google Scholar
  27. Mills, C. W. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Nelsen, H. M., & Nelsen, A. K. (1975). Black church in the sixties. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pew Research Center (2014). Wealth inequality has widened along racial, ethnic, lines since the Great Recession.
  30. Roberts, J. D. (2003). In D. E. Goatley (Ed.), Black religion, black theology (Ed ed.). Harrisburg: Trinity Press International.Google Scholar
  31. Rosmarin, D. H., Pirutinsky, S., Cohen, A. B., Galler, Y., & Krumrei, E. J. (2011). Grateful to God or just plain grateful? A comparison of religious and general gratitude. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 389–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rowatt, W. C., Ottenbreit, A., Nesselroade, K. P., & Cunningham, P. A. (2002). On being holier-than-thou or humbler-than thee: A social-psychological perspective on religiousness and humility. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 227–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schaap, J., Jonker, E., Eurelings-Rontekoe, B., Zock, H., & Jonker, E. (2008). Development and validation of the Dutch questionnaire God image: Effects of mental health and religious culture. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 11, 501–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schieman, S., Pudrovska, T., & Milkei, M. A. (2005). The sense of divine control and self-concept. Review of Religious Research, 27, 165–196.Google Scholar
  35. Sherkat, D. E. (2002). African-American religious affiliation in the late twentieth century: Cohort variations and patterns of switching, 1973–1998. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41, 485–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sherman, A., Merluzzi, T. V., Pustejovsky, J. E., Park, C. L., George, L., Fitchett, G., et al. (2015). A meta-analytic review of religious and spiritual involvement and social health among cancer patients. Cancer, 121, 3779–3788.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Sternthal, M. J., Williams, D. R., Music, M. A., & Buck, A. C. (2012). Religious practices, beliefs, and mental health: Variations by race and ethnicity. Ethnicity & Health, 17, 171–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stevens, J. P. (2002). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (4th ed.). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  39. Stroope, S., Draper, S., & Whitehead, A. L. (2013). Images of a loving God and sense of meaning in life. Social Indicators Research, 111, 25–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Taylor, R. D. (2010). Risk and resilience in low-income African American families: Moderating effects of kinship social support. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16, 344–351.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor, R. J., Chatters, L. M., Jayakody, R., & Levin, J. S. (1996). Black and white differences in religious participation: A multisample comparison. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 35, 403–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Taylor, R. J., Chatters, L. M., & Levin, J. (2004). Religion in the lives of African Americans: Social, psychological, and health perspectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Zinnbauer, B. J., Pargament, K. I., Cole, B., Rye, M. S., Butter, E. M., Belvich, T. G., & Kadar, J. L. (1997). Religion and spirituality: Unfuzzing the fuzzy. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36, 549–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.University of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

Personalised recommendations