Believers in benevolent God read less hostility in others’ eyes,

We conducted these studies in the Netherlands, a quite secularized country where Christians do not have much political power. Christians in the Netherlands are mostly very active and involved, but hesitate to tell about their faith outside the church, out of fear to be ironized. The Dutch Christians reported a mainly strong caring and loving God believe and far less a punishing God belief.

However, we did (partly) the same study in the USA and there the God belief seems to be more complex. People report to have strong beliefs in a caring God and a punishing God at the same time. Considering the perspective change theory, this might be due to the fact that Christians in the States actually have power, so when you believe that God judges, you might have the actual means to judge others too, without strong repercussions or social rejection. But obviously, far more research is needed on this topic.

The study, “After God’s image: prayer leads people with positive God beliefs to read less hostility in others’ eyes“, was also co-authored by Sander L. Koole. It was published January 20, 2017.

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