Psychological mood states and the Christian experience of relating to God

Robert Michael Epperly, Marquette University


This research investigates the relationship between personal spirituality and mental health. The primary problem was to provide an answer to the following question: Does having a "relationship with God" as outlined in Biblical teaching significantly correlate with mood states that are important in psychological well-being. A related problem was examined to determine if there were significant relationships between the demographic characteristics of the subjects and their "relationship with God." The demographic variables were: religious affiliation (Catholic or Protestant), sex, educational level, and marital status (single or married). The concept of "relationship with God" was developed from a Christian point of view since the Christian Scriptures were adopted as the model for the study. Among the different models of theory construction--deductive, functional, empirical, and conceptual analogue (model)--the latter was chosen as a guide to this research. "Relationship with God" was operationalized by using an attitude inventory made up of Biblical quotations that describe a believer's feelings and thoughts about God. The instrument, called the "relationship with God Inventory" (RWGI) was made up of 20 items that refer directly to the "person to God" relationship. A pilot study was conducted to insure that the RWGI tool validly represented the Biblical model. Psychological well-being was operationalized by the Profile of Mood States Inventory (POMS), an instrument that measures six mood factors. The purpose of the study was to measure a single dimension of spirituality, ("relationship with God") and then to discover the nature of the relationship between that construct and psychological mood states. The subjects for the study were 148 individuals from three distinct groups. Thirty-one subjects were students at Marquette University, 25 were members of the Army Reserves and 92 were students at Wheaton College. A matrix of intercorrelations was developed, using the six subscales of the POMS, the total mood disturbance score, three demographic variables, and the RWGI score. The results indicate that the belief and feeling of having a close "relationship with God" as measured by the RWGI is inversely related to depression, anger, and general negative affect as measured by the POMS.

Recommended Citation

Epperly, Robert Michael, "Psychological mood states and the Christian experience of relating to God" (1991). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9133791.