Motivational Priorities Reflect Beliefs About God’s Attributes

Nakkawita, Emily Blanche; Heiphetz, Larisa A.

The motive domains of control and truth align with conceptions of God’s omnipotence and omniscience, but the link between control- versus truth-dominant motives and God concepts remains unclear. A convergence account predicts a positive association between these variables; a divergence account predicts an inverse association. Furthermore, the causal direction of an association under either account is unknown. To test between these competing accounts, Study 1 investigated whether people with God concepts dominant in control versus truth report motives that are also control- (versus truth-) dominant. To investigate causality, Study 2 manipulated God concepts and measured motive dominance; Study 3 manipulated motives and measured God concepts. Study 4 replicated Study 1 with methodological enhancements. Collectively, results supported the convergence account, indicating that God concepts influence motive predominance. By integrating motivation and religious cognition research, this work elucidates the relations between beliefs about God’s attributes and personal motives.


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July 31, 2023