Attachment to God in a Collectivistic Context and its Impact on Perceived Stress


  • Syeda Saniya Zehra Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Elizabeth Schwaiger Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan



Attachment, family system, perceived stress, collectivistic culture, religiosity, Pakistan


Introduction: Research indicates that attachment to God is correlated with parental attachment and perceived stress.  However, these relationships have not been studied outside the Western context.  The present research evaluated the relationship between attachment to God and attachment to parents within different family systems and the impact of these attachments on perceived stress.

Methods: A sample of 284 Christian undergraduate students was surveyed.  The data were collected from the participants through convenience sampling.  Relationships between attachment to parents, attachment to God, religiosity, and perceived stress were studied.

Results: A significant positive relationship between attachment to parents and to God was found for the nuclear family system on the anxiety subscale.  For the avoidance subscale, both nuclear and joint family systems had significant positive relationships between parental attachment and attachment to God; however, it was stronger for joint family systems.  The multiple regression analysis showed parental avoidance (β = .256, p <.001) and God anxiety (β = .281, p <.001) as the strongest predictors of stress.

Discussion: The findings highlight the impact of collectivistic cultural values, particularly the importance of relationships.  The implications include the significance of the impact of culture on attachment relationships and the finding that attachment correlates with lower levels of perceived stress.  The research also shows the difference in attachment styles depending upon the family system the participant belongs to which can again be attributed to cultural norms and values.

Author Biographies

Syeda Saniya Zehra, Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan

MS(c), Clinical Psychology, Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan

Elizabeth Schwaiger, Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan

PsyD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), Lahore, Pakistan 


Hofstede G. Dimensionalizing cultures: the Hofstede Model in context [Internet]. Online Read Psych Culture. 2011;2(1).

Rahman K, Zhang D. Globalization and family values: eroding trends. Int J Soc Admin Sci. 2017;2(2):63-74.

Alam A. Factors and consequences of nuclearization of family at Hayatabad Phase-II, Peshawar. Sarhad J Agr. 2008;24(3):555-9. Available from:

Rahman S, Uddin S. The impact of globalization on family values. Int J Adv Res. 2017;5(8):968-77.

Saqib Lodhi F, Ahmed Khan A, Raza O, Uz Zaman T, Farooq U, Holakouie-Naieni K. Level of satisfaction and its predictors among joint and nuclear family systems in District Abbottabad, Pakistan. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2019;33(59).

Bowlby J. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1: Attachment. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books; 1982/1969

Phinney J, Line AL. Ethnic identity in college students from four ethnic groups. J Adolescence. 1990;13(2):171–83. https://doi:10.1016/0140-1971(90)90006-s

Bowlby J. Attachment and loss: Vol. 2: Separation. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books; 1973.

Ainsworth MD. Attachments across the life span. Bull NY Acad Med. 1985 Nov;61(9):792-812. PMID: 3864511; PMCID: PMC1911889. Available from:

Beck R, McDonald A. Attachment to God: the Attachment to God Inventory, tests of working model correspondence, and an exploration of faith group differences. J Psychol Theol. 2004;32(2):92-103.

Brown B, Bakken J. Parenting and peer relationships: reinvigorating research on family-peer linkages in adolescence. J Res Adolescence. 2011;21(1):153-65.

Granqvist P. religiousness and perceived childhood attachment: on the question of compensation or correspondence. J Sci Stud Relig. 1998;37(2):350-67.

Dickie J, Eshleman A, Merasco D, Shepard A, Wilt M, Johnson M. Parent-child relationships and children's images of god. J Sci Stu Relig. 1997;36(1):25-43.

Berk LE. Emotional and Social Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood. In: Infants and Children. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc, Allyn, Bacon; 2005. p.264-77.

Rabbani M, Kasmaienezhadfard S, Pourrajab M. The relationship between parental attachment and stress: a review of literatures related to stress among students. Online J Counsel Educ. 2014;3(1):42–50. Available from:

Rowatt W, Kirkpatrick L. Two dimensions of attachment to god and their relation to affect, religiosity, and personality constructs. J Sci Stud Relig. 2002;41(4):637-51.

Reiner S, Anderson T, Hall M, Hall T. Adult attachment, god attachment and gender in relation to perceived stress. J Psychol Theol. 2010;38(3):175-85.

Ellison C, Bradshaw M, Kuyel N, Marcum J. Attachment to god, stressful life events, and changes in psychological distress. Rev Relig Res. 2011;53(4):493-511.

Leman J, Hunter W, Fergus T, Rowatt W. Secure attachment to god uniquely linked to psychological

Zehra & Schwaiger

December 2021. Christian Journal for Global Health 8(2)

health in a national, random sample of American adults. Int J Psychol Rel. 2018;28(3):162-73.

Park C. Religiousness and religious coping as determinants of stress-related growth. Arch Psychol Relig. 2006;28(1):287-302.

Merrill R, Read C, LeCheminant A. The influence of religiosity on positive and negative outcomes associated with stress among college students. Ment Heal, Relig Culture. 2009;12(5):501-11.

Sahar N, Muzaffar N. Role of family system, positive emotions and resilience in social adjustment among Pakistani adolescents. J Educ, Health Comm Psych. 2017;6(2):46-58. Available from:

Saleem T, Gul S. Family dysfunctioning and social competence in adolescents: a comparative study of family structure. Pakistan J Physiol. 2016;12(3):19-22. Available from:

Fraley R, Heffernan M, Vicary A, Brumbaugh C. The experiences in close relationships—Relationship Structures Questionnaire: a method for assessing attachment orientations across relationships. Psychol Assessment. 2011;23(3):615-25.

Huber S, Huber O. The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS). Religions. 2012;3(3):710-24.

Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. a global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983;24(4):385-96.

Crutzen R, Peters G. Scale quality: alpha is an inadequate estimate and factor-analytic evidence is needed first of all. Health Psychol Rev. 2015;11(3):242-47.

Pallant J. SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS for Windows (version12). Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2005.

Leung K, Au Y, Fernández-Dols J, Iwawaki S. Preference for methods of conflict processing in two collectivist cultures. Int J Psychol. 1992;27(2):195-209.

Poehlmann J. An attachment perspective on grandparents raising their very young grandchildren: implications for intervention and research. Inf Mental Health J. 2003;24(2):149-73.

Sun Y, Jiang N. The effect of grandparents’ co-parenting on young children’s personality and adaptation: Chinese three-generation-families. Asian Soc Sci. 2017;13(5):7-15.

Wei M, Ku T, Chen H, Wade N, Liao K, Guo G. Chinese Christians in America: attachment to God, stress, and well-being. Couns Values. 2012;57(2):162-80. https://doi:10.1002/j.2161-007x.2012.00015.x

Paul B, Nadiruzzaman M. religious interpretations for the causes of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Asian Profile. 2013;41(1): 67-76. Available from:

Suneel I, Schwaiger Suneel E, Anthony S. Attachment styles and their demographic correlates among adult children of alcoholic fathers in Pakistan. Pakistan Armed Forces Med J. [Forthcoming].

Salmon C. Birth order and relationships. Human Nature. 2003;14(1):73-88.

van IJzendoorn M, Moran G, Belsky J, Pederson D, Bakermans-Kranenburg M, Kneppers K. The similarity of siblings' attachments to their mother. Child Devel. 2000;71(4):1086-98.




How to Cite

Zehra, S. S., & Schwaiger, E. (2021). Attachment to God in a Collectivistic Context and its Impact on Perceived Stress. Christian Journal for Global Health, 8(2), 24–35.