God-Watchfulness, Self-Control, and Patience in Adolescence

Publication Date



Recent research in the psychology of religion has begun to examine the function of religion in promoting pro-social behavior (Graham & Haidt, 2010). One specific religious concept that has been linked to self-control is beliefs about God’s watchfulness of human behavior (Lauren, Kay & Fitzsimmons, 2012). Amongst adolescent populations, beliefs about God’s watchfulness have been shown to increase self-control by increasing adolescent self-awareness (Carter, McCullough, & Carver, 2012). Thus, I hypothesized that God-watchfulness and religion are related to self-control, as well as examine potential moderators such as self-efficacy, age, and general belief about God’s existence within an adolescent population. Additionally, the construct of patience, which is related to self-control (Schnitker, 2012), may also be related to God-watchfulness beliefs and religiousness. I hypothesized that the relationship between God-watchfulness beliefs and patience be partially mediated by an adolescent’s use of reappraisal emotional strategies. In order to avoid possible negative affect that increased self-awareness may bring (Silvia & Duval, 2001), I hypothesized that a positive spirituality may be required for an adolescent to avoid these possibly negative effects. These hypotheses were analyzed using correlational analyses, hierarchical regressions to test moderations, and non-parametric bootstrapping analyses to test for possible mediations. The results of the analyses did not support the hypotheses in nearly all cases. Possible reasons for the lack of findings are discussed, including measurement issues and methodological issues. Broadly, it may not be possible to detect the effects of God-watchfulness beliefs outside of controlled laboratory settings.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Schnitker, Sarah A.

Document Type





Christian ethics, Belief and doubt, Self-control, Adolescence




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