An exploratory factor analysis of need-based concepts of God

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Carolyn S. Garwood - Committee Member


It was proposed that psychology should have a model with which to construe individual religious beliefs and behaviors. A need-based model which could be described in terms of the tenets of Maslow's (1968) need-based personality theory was proposed. It was hypothesized that if a large number of possible need-for-God items were factor analyzed, a smaller number of actual need-for-God dimensions would emerge. Central to the study were assumptions that (a) God meets multiple needs, (b) these needs are differentiable, and (c) a factor analysis would provide the mechanism of differentiation. Twenty eight hypothesized need-for-God factors were culled from classic literature and represented by individual four item scales. These scales, collected into the Religious Feelings Inventory (RFI), were administered, along with the I scale from the Personal Orientation Inventory (POI), to 327 college students, then subjected to a principal components factor analysis.The data disconfirmed the assumptions; rather than producing multiple need-for-God factors, the factor analysis identified a unidimensional need-for-God. Virtually all of the hypothesized-need variables produced the same information, suggesting that subjects who subscribed to a personal God were likely to use divine assistance to meet multiple needs. Expected gender differences in the conceptualization of God were not found. Significant denominational differences in endorsement of the general need-for-God factor were found. The total need endorsement score correlated negatively with the I scale from the POI.It is theorized that a general tendency to look to God to meet one' s needs overwhelmed the limited ability of the scales to differentiate needs for God. It is proposed that a Q-sort design would substantially improve the power of the RFI.


Religion, General; Psychology, Social

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