Investigating Relations Regarding the Religious Ought, Ideal, and Actual Self Using a Relational Density Theory Approach
Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Psychology
Religiosity may produce positive outcomes (e.g., greater life satisfaction, hope, and optimism) or negative outcomes (e.g., psychological distress), especially if the individual’s identity is in conflict (Koenig, 2001). This distress, as explained by self-discrepancy theory, is caused by inconsistency between the self-concept (attributes the individual believes they currently possess) and the self-guides, consisting of the ‘ought’ self (attributes the individual believes they ought to -or should- possess) and the 'ideal' self (attributes the individual desires to possess) (Higgins, 1987). Exploring stimulus relations related to these ‘selves’ using a relational density framework (Belisle & Dixon, 2020) may provide insight regarding relational networks, including the three versions of the self, agitation-related emotions, and their antonyms. In the present study, I utilized a multidimensional scaling procedure (MDS) to consider both a general life outlook and a religious outlook. I analyzed this data, comparing the relations between general life and religious outlooks, as well as comparing the differences for highly religious, religious, and non-religious participants. Findings showed differences did occur when the religious context was specified, indicating that religion (or lack of religion) does affect the way in which the participants relate to each of their identities. The life in general context produced a tight cluster of negative affect terms and a cluster of positive affect terms. The ought, ideal, and actual self clustered closest to or within positive affect terms. When religious context was applied, the positive affect terms became less dense. When comparing religiosity levels of participants, notable differences among the nature and density of identity-based relations were observed. Non-religious participants demonstrated the most religious identity clarity, followed by highly religious participants. Religious individuals had the least identity clarity and were the group who related most to negative affect.
Relational Density Theory, Relational Frame Theory, Self-Discrepancy Theory, religion, ought, ideal, actual
© Kam Barker
Barker, Kam, "Investigating Relations Regarding the Religious Ought, Ideal, and Actual Self Using a Relational Density Theory Approach" (2023). MSU Graduate Theses. 3842.