The God Image Inventory (Gil) contains six subscales measuring different aspects of God image: Influence, Provi­dence, Presence, Challenge, Acceptance, and Benevolence. In addition, the God Image Scales contain shortened versions of each of the six subscales for use in research.


The Gil contains a total of 156 items. Each of the six main scales consists of 22 items, while the two control scales (Faith and Salience) each contain 12 items. The instrument is scored on a four-point Likert scale with 1 indicating strong agreement and 4 indicating strong disagreement with each statement. Many negatively worded items must be reverse scored. Each subscale should be scored separately by simply sum­ming the items contained in it. Scores range from 22 to 88 for the six main subscales, and from 12 to 48 for the two control scales. A higher score represents a greater degree of the particular trait identified by the scale name.

Lawrence (1991) distinguishes between a person’s God concept and his or her God image. The God concept is an intellectual­ized definition of God that is largely an arti­ fact of cultural and religious education. God image, by contrast, is one’s intuitive sense of God-what Lawrence describes as “a set of remembered and interpreted associations and experiences” (Lawrence, 1991, p. 134). Thus instead of focusing on beliefs about God, it focuses on a more affectively laden experience of God.

In light of this theory, Lawrence created the God Image Inventory to assess individu­als’ felt sense of who God is for them. Lawrence (1991) constructed sixerinipal scales (Influence, Providence, Presence, ( Challenge, Acceptance, and Benevolence) and two control scales (Faith and Salience). Based on Rizzuto’s (1979) suggestion that the God image is created, altered, and used primarily for the purpose of preserving a tolerable tension between affectively laden experiences of self and others, Lawrence concluded that God image and self image are highly related to one another, and he sought to measure the relationship between the two. Lawrence used three basic themes for the self image as a framework for the six subscales: feelings of control, belonging, and fundamental goodness.

The theme of control was divided into two basic questions, one being more primi­tive and focused more on the self (How much can I control God?), the other being more focused on God (How much does God control me?). The first subdivision was la­beled Influence, and the second, Providence.

The theme of belonging was likewise di­ vided into two basic considerations, the first of which, drawn from the work of Winnicott (1953), suggests that “belonging” for the infant relates to the issue of presence and is experienced as the question “Is mother there for me?” Thus the first and most primitive belonging issue was labeled “Presence,” ../

which is reflected by the question Is God there for me? The second aspect of belonging relates to the work of Kirkpatrick (1986), who, following Bowby (1969), out­ lined two roles for attachment figures. The first, which corresponds well to the issue of presence, is labeled “Safe Haven” and refers to a person to whom the child may retreat and find present. The second consideration, called “Secure Base,” relates to the same person’s availability as he or she provides empowerment for the child to move out and explore the world. Thus the second belonging issue was labeled “Challenge,” which · can be represented by the question “Does God want me to grow?”

The theme of Goodness was again di­ vided into two components. The first com­ ponent, with more primitive emphasis on self image, can be characterized by the question “Am I good enough for God to / love?” This dimension was labeled “Acceptance.” The second component, more reflex­ive and oriented toward God image, can be,, summarized by the question “Is God the sort j of Being who would want to love me?” This dimension was labeled “Benevolence.”

Since these six dimensions are hypothesized to be fundamental questions about God image, self image, and the relationship be­ tween the two throughout life, these are viewed as being relatively independent of developmental stages or theories. Lawrence (1991) points out that although this does not mean that these basic questions remain sta­ tic throughout life, they are nonetheless measurable throughout life.

In addition to these six main scales, Lawrence (1991) added two shorter control scales for the convenience of the interpreter. The first one, Faith, attempts to measure the degree to which the subject believes in God as an existing being. The second, Salience, purports to measure the degree to which people find their relationships with God im­portant to their personal lives.

Practical Considerations:

The test is self­ administered and requires no special exam­iner skill to administer or score. The instruc­tions explain the meaning of each choice (i.e., strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree) and emphasize that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. It is de­ signed for research as well as pastoral and clinical use.


Lawrence (1991) standardized the GIi on a national sample of 1,580 respondents. These standards were demonstrated to be adequate for the inter­pretation of scores of adult American Chris­ tians across sex, age, education, and marital status. The means for the eight subscales ranged from 36.1 (Salience) to 73.3 (Benev­ olence). Standard deviations ranged from 7.0 (Faith) to 12.5 (Presence).


Lawrence (1991) found internal consistency reliability coefficients ranging from .86 (Challenge) to .94 (Presence) for the main scales and the control scales. In a later phase of the study, Lawrence (1991) rechecked the internal consistency of the eight scales on a new sample, since the previ­ous reliability data was based on recomputa­tions from the original 490-item survey. The results indicated essentially identical internal consistency reliability coefficients ranging from .85 (Challenge) to .94 (Presence).

Lawrence (1991) computed interscale correlations on two occasions and found the average difference between the two sets of interscale correlations to be .03. The correlations ranged from .84 (Presence with In­ fluence) to .44 (Providence with Benevolence). Thus Lawrence concluded that the GIi scales demonstrate a stable pattern of intercorrelations, which indicates good tem­ poral stability.


Contrary to the eight theoretical factors Lawrence hypothesized, a factor analysis with oblique rotation yielded 10 factors. Seven factors contained items from at least two different scales.

In order to establish convergent and dis­ criminate validity, Lawrence (1991) corre­lated the GIi scales with seven other mea­ sures (Extrinsic, Intrinsic, Achievement, Self-Esteem, Altruism, Locus of Control, and God Control) with which GIi scales were predicted to relate in particular ways. The extrinsic scale, as predicted, was found to correlate negatively with all the GIi scales. However, not all the correlations were small, as predicted. Lawrence pre­dicted that overall intrinsic religiosity would correlate most highly with Salience, since it measures the relational importance of the God image to the subject. Lawrence further hypothesized that subjects with a greater sense of God’s availability for them (Pres­ence) would report a more satisfactory rela­tionship with God, and thus would be more religious overall. Lawrence also predicted that intrinsicness would correlate second best with the Presence scale. As hypothe­sized, the Presence scale correlated the high­est with the Salience scale (.76) and second highest with the Presence scale (.69), thus supporting the validity of these two scales.

The Achievement Scale did not perform as Lawrence had hypothesized, namely, that it would correlate positively with the Challenge Scale. However, it related negatively with all the Gil scales and reached significance only with the Providence Scale. Since it did not correlate significantly with Challenge, it nei­ther confirmed nor falsified the validity of the Challenge Scale. Confirming Lawrence’s hypothesis, the Self-Esteem Scale correlated positively with the GIi Acceptance Scale (.54). Although Lawrence expected the Altru­ism Scale to relate significantly better with the GIi Benevolence Scale than with the other GIi scales, and second best with the GIi Acceptance Scale, it actually failed to discriminate the two GIi scales, and demon­ strated a very narrow range of correlations with all the GIi scales (.22 to .26).

Lawrence hypothesized that Internalization of a psychometric instrument for research, pastoral and clinical use in measuring the image of God. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America, Washington D. C.

God Image Inventory

Please respond to each statement by circling the response that comes closest to describing your feelings:

  • SA, for Strongly Agree, if the statement is a particularly good way of describing how you feel about God. ·
  • A, for agree, if the statement just adequately describes your feelings about God.
  • D, for Disagree, if the statement does not adequately describe your feelings about God.
  • SD, for Strongly Disagree, if the statement is a particularly bad way of describing your feel­ ings about God.

  1. God does not notice me. (P)*
  2. I would live the same way whether I believed in God or not. (S)*
  3. I sometimes think of God while drifting off to sleep. (P)
  4. When I do wrong, God’s back is turned on me. (A)*
  5. When I obey God’s rules, God makes good things happen for me. (I)
  6. God lifts me up. (P)
  7. God keeps calling me to develop myself. (C)
  8. I think human achievements are a threat to God. (C)
  9. The world would make no sense to me without God. (F)
  10. I imagine God to be rather formal, almost standoffish. (B)*
  11. I can see the direct hand of God in many things. (Pr)
  12. God guides me like a good parent. (Pr)
  13. God wants me to avoid the world as much as possible. (C)*
  14. My growth in maturity is pleasing to God. (C)
  15. I am sometimes anxious about whether God still loves me. (A)*
  16. My belief in God is as solid as a rock. (F)
  17. Asking God for help rarely does me any good. (I)*
  18. I am confident of God’s love for me. (A)
  19. I am never sure that God is really listening to me. (P)*
  20. I know I’m not perfect, but God loves me anyway. (A)
  21. God does not seem to notice when I cry. (P)*
  22. I have sometimes felt that I have committed the unforgivable sin. (A)*
  23. The voice of God tells me what to do. (Pr)
  24. My belief in God has made a big difference in my life. (S)
  25. Even when I mess things up, I know God will straighten them out. (Pr)
  26. I am not very sure what God is really like. (F)*
  27. God never challenges me. (C)*
  28. Thinking too much could endanger my faith. (C)*
  29. I think of God as more compassionate than demanding. (B)
  30. One source of my own self-respect is God’s love for me. (A)
  31. I get what I pray for. (I)
  32. I try to be good because I know how much God love’s me. (A)
  33. I can feel God deep inside of me. (P)
  34. God’s love for me has no strings attached. (A)
  35. God doesn’t feel very personal to me. (P)*
  36. No matter how hard I pray, it doesn’t do any good. (I)*
  37. Even when I do bad things, I know God still loves me. (A)
  38. My belief in God is central to my life. (S)
  39. I can talk to God on an intimate basis. (P)
  40. God is always there for me. (P)
  41. I have often changed my beliefs about God. (F)*
  42. God nurtures me. (P)
  43. God always has time for me. (P)
  44. I get no feeling of closeness to God, even in prayer. (P)*
  45. God is very patient. (B)
  46. God loves me only when I perform perfectly. (A)*
  47. I am not sure that my prayers matter to God. (I)*
  48. What happens in my life is largely a result of decisions I make. (Pr)*
  49. My faith in God helps me make decisions for myself. (C)
  50. I think God even loves atheists. (B)
  51. God loves me regardless. (A)
  52. God takes pleasure in my achievements. (C)
  53. I can’t imagine anyone God couldn’t love. (B)
  54. God wants me to help transform the world. (C)
  55. Sometimes I feel that God doesn’t love me anymore. (A)*
  56. I get no help from God even if I pray for it. (I)*
  57. I look on challenges in life as gifts from God. (C)*
  58. Prayer for me feels like talking to God almost face to face. (P)
  59. God can easily be provoked by disobedience. (B)*
  60. I am sure there has to be a God. (F)
  61. God is not terribly relevant to my life. (S)*
  62. God knows me better than to push me very hard. (C)*
  63. I often worry about whether God can love me. (A)*
  64. God is more of an observer of my life than a participant. (Pr)*
  65. God is in control of my life. (Pr)
  66. God wants me to achieve all I can in life. (C)
  67. I am a very powerful person because of God’s help. (I)
  68. Prayer changes things. (I)
  69. God will always provide for me. (Pr)*
  70. Not even God can change how things will come out. (Pr)*
  71. God has always seemed approachable to me. (B)
  72. God helps me when I ask for help. (I)
  73. My belief in God makes a major difference in the way I live. (S)
  74. I doubt that God interferes very much in human affairs. (Pr)*
  75. I would pray more if I thought it made a difference, but I don’t think it does. (I)*
  76. I think God mostly leaves people free. (Pr)*
  77. Everyday things are more important to me than trying to be close to God. (S)*
  78. If God listens to prayers, you couldn’t prove it by me. (I)*
  79. God helps me to keep going, no matter how hard things are. (C)
  80. God is looking for a chance to get even with me. (B)*
  81. God’s mercy is for everyone. (B)*
  82. God has to forgive my sins, but probably doesn’t really want to. (B)*
  83. I doubt that I will be rewarded for following God’s rules. (I)*
  84. God’s love for me is unconditional. (A)
  85. When I think of God, I feel at peace. (A)
  86. My faith gives me some control over what happens to me. (I)
  87. I trust in God to take care of me. (Pr)*
  88. I know what to do to get God to listen to me. (I)
  89. I ask God to help me grow from my troubles. (C)
  90. God loves a lot of other people better than me. (A)*
  91. I have confidence when I pray. (I)
  92. God walks beside me and shows me where to go. (Pr)
  93. Leaming too much about the world could endanger my faith in God. (C)*
  94. God asks me to keep growing as a person. (C)
  95. I think God only loves certain people. (B)*
  96. I sometimes don’t know where to look for God. (P)*
  97. God almost always answers my prayers. (I)
  98. My faith in God is very strong. (F)
  99. God doesn’t want me to ask too many questions. (C)*
  100. I have often doubted the existence of God. (F)*
  101. I do not think about God very often. (S)*
  102. I get a great deal out of the time I spend in prayer. (S)
  103. God makes few demands on me. (C)*
  104. God does not do much to determine the outcome of my life. (Pr)*
  105. I am not very firm in my beliefs about God. (F)*
  106. God lets the world run by its laws. (Pr)*
  107. Sometimes I feel that God is persecuting me. (B)*
  108. I would say that I am a God-centered person. (S)
  109. Even if my beliefs about God were wrong God would still love me. (B)
  110. I am not good enough for God to love. (A)*
  111. I think it is best not to get too involved with God. (S)*
  112. I have confidence in my beliefs about God. (F)
  113. If I became convinced that God did not exist, nothing much in my life would change. (S)*
  114. God’s compassion knows no religious boundaries. (B)
  115. I sometimes feel cradled in God’s arms. (P)
  116. God has never asked me to do hard things. (C)*
  117. In making major decisions, I almost always think about my relationship with God. (S)
  118. Running the world is more important to God than caring about people. (B)*
  119. I often feel that I am in the hands of God. (Pr)*
  120. I don’t think my faith gives me any special influence with God. (I)*
  121. I am sure that God really exists. (F)
  122. Mostly, I have to provide for myself. (Pr)*
  123. I feel that God knows me by name. (P)
  124. I am particularly drawn to the image of God as a shepherd. (Pr)
  125. God does not answer when I call. (P)*
  126. I most often feel that I must face my problems alone. (Pr)*
  127. God feels distant to me. (P)*
  128. I often feel abandoned by God. (P)*
  129. I think human achievements are a delight to God. (C)
  130. I feel that God has a very specific plan for my life. (Pr)
  131. It doesn’t matter if I pray or not. (I)*
  132. I rarely feel that God is with me. (P)*
  133. I cannot imagine anyone more compassionate than God. (B)*
  134. God for me is like a faithful friend. (A)
  135. I feel warm inside when I pray. (P)
  136. God loves me because God wants to. (B)*
  137. I have a hard time believing in God’s mercy. (B)*
  138. God’s love is a constant source of comfort to me. (A)
  139. I am pretty much responsible for my own life. (Pr)*
  140. God has very little influence over my life. (Pr)*
  141. I often have nightmares about going to hell. (A)*
  142. My ideas about God are pretty vague. (F)*
  143. God rarely if ever seems to give me what I ask for. (I)*
  144. I think God must enjoy getting even with us when we deserve it. (B)*
  145. God encourages me to go forward on the journey of life. (C)
  146. God sometimes intervenes at my request. (I)
  147. I think God loves us all equally. (B)*
  148. I have sometimes wondered whether God really exists. (F)*
  149. I am more likely to succeed at something if I ask God for help. (I)
  150. God never reached out to me. (P)*
  151. God doesn’t mind if I don’t grow very much. (C)*
  152. No matter how hard I try to please God, it doesn’t seem to do me any good. (I)*
  153. Sometimes I think that not even God could love me. (A)*
  154. Sometimes I have nightmares about God. (B)*
  155. God’s mercy is only for the chosen few. (B)*
  156. I would have to be a lot better person to be sure of God’s love. (A)*


P – Presence subscale items

C – Challenge subscale items

– Acceptance subscale items

B – Benevolence subscale items

I – Influence subscale items

Pr – Providence subscale items

F – Faith subscale items

S – Salience subscale items

*Denotes negatively worded item (reverse-scored)

Note: The author has subsequently published a 72-item God Image Scale. Lawrence, R. T. (1997). Mea­ suring the image of God: The God Image Inventory and the God Image ScalesJournal of Psychology and Theology, 25(2), 214-226.

Subsequent Research:

Key, T. L. (1995). Impact of inpatient psychi­ atric treatment on object relations maturity, self-es­ teem and God image (Doctoral dissertation, Rose­ mead Graduate School of Psychology, Biola University, 1995). Dissertation Abstracts Interna­tional, 55, B5568.

Knapp, C. L. (1993). Personality transformation and belief in God: An object relations understand­ing of the spiritual awakening program of alco­holics anonymous. Unpublished doctoral disserta­tion, Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Center, MA.


Lawrence, R. T. (1991). The God Image Inven­tory: The development, validation, and standard-


Lawrence, R. T. (1991). The God Image Inven­tory: The development, validation, and standard­ization of a psychometric instrument for research, pastoral and clinical use in measuring the image of God. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America, Washington D. C.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. I: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Kirkpatrick, L. A. (1986). Developmental psy­chology and religion: Potential application of at­tachment theory for the psychology of religion. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Soci­ ety for the Scientific Study of Religion, Washington D.C.

Rizzuto, A. (1979). The birth of the living God. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Winnicott, D. W. (1953). Transitional objects and transitional phenomena. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34, 91.