Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Shari Steinman

Committee Member

Natalie Shook

Committee Member

Julie Hicks Patrick


A series of three studies was conducted to develop and validate primes to activate negative, positive, or neutral beliefs about God and to determine how these activated beliefs impact scrupulosity signs and symptoms. Scrupulosity is a specific presentation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in which individuals become preoccupied and distressed by intrusive thoughts and images related to religious issues. Individuals with more severe scrupulosity often have more negative beliefs about God. Christianity conceptualizes God in both positive (e.g., loving, caring, and helpful) and negative (e.g., angry, judgmental, and wrathful) terms. It is therefore important to determine how more positive, negative, or neutral beliefs about God influence scrupulosity symptoms in order to improve treatment efficacy for scrupulosity. In Study 1, potential primes were created from Bible verses and rated on arousal, valence, familiarity, and complexity by participants self-identifying as Christian. In Study 2, the selected positive, negative, and neutral primes were tested to determine if they differentially activated positive and negative beliefs about God. Results indicated that participants in the negative prime condition had more negative and less positive beliefs about God than participants in the positive and neutral prime condition. In Study 3, Christian participants read one of the three primes described above. Next, participants completed a thought-induction task and measures of thought-action fusion and scrupulosity. There were no significant differences in reactions to the thought-induction task or self-report measures of scrupulosity or thought-action fusion between conditions. However, participants in the negative condition had significantly higher state anxiety following the prime, compared to participants in the positive condition. Results demonstrate the ability of the negative prime to activate negative beliefs about God and highlight the detrimental impact negative beliefs about God may have on state anxiety.