Belief in a Loving Versus Punitive God and Behavior

James A. Shepperd, Gabrielle Pogge, Nikolette P. Lipsey, Wendi A. Miller, Gregory D. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We examined the extent to which beliefs in a loving God and punitive God correspond with self-reported behavior in an online, longitudinal survey involving three waves of data collection, each separated by 6 months. Adolescents (N = 760) reported the extent to which they believed in a loving God and a punitive God (Times 1 and 3) and reported their engagement in benevolent (helping and forgiveness) and aggressive behavior (Times 2 and 3). Participants strongly endorsed a loving God but not a punitive God. In addition, belief in a loving God corresponded with reports of less aggressive and more benevolent behavior, whereas belief in a punitive God corresponded with more aggressive and less benevolent behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-401
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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