God image and mood in old age: Results from a community-based pilot study in the Netherlands.

ABSTRACT. Religious involvement is frequently found to be associated with less depression in later life. The emotional aspects of religiousness, such as pertaining to the God-object relationship, have not received substantial attention in empirical research among older adults, and especially not in European samples. As part of a pilot study of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, a small sample of older church-members (n = 60), aged 68-93, filled out a questionnaire, including the Questionnaire God Image on feelings to God and perceptions of God, two of the God Image Scales designed by Lawrence on perceptions of God, the brief positive and negative religious coping scale designed by Pargament, and items on hopelessness, depressive symptoms, and feelings of guilt. Feelings of discontent towards God correlated positively with hopelessness, depressive symptoms, feelings of guilt, and also with depressive symptoms assessed 13 years earlier; these findings pertained to Protestant participants in particular. Most facets of God image, positive, critical, and about punishment reappraisals, were associated with more feelings of guilt. A possible explanation for the most pervasive finding, that feelings of discontent towards God are related to depressive symptoms, is that both, throughout life, remain rooted in insecure attachment styles.