Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Rodger Bufford, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Amber Nelson, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

Michael Vogel, Psy.D.


This study investigated the relationship between attachment to God, health locus of control (HLOC), perceived stress, and COVID-19-related attitudes and health behaviors among undergraduate students. Undergraduates from George Fox University were sampled, and data were collected from December 2021 to May 2022. Participants ranged from ages 18 to 36 years old (M = 19.1, SD = 2.1). The majority identified as female (68.3%) and European-American (70.2%). A K-cluster analysis revealed two groups utilizing attachment to God and HLOC scores: 81 healthy (43%) and 109 distressed (57%) individuals. The healthy group reported lower scores on anxious and avoidant attachment to God and chance health locus of control. An analysis of covariance examined the relationship between cluster membership and generalized anxiety and COVID-19-related mental health outcomes, attitudes, and health behaviors after controlling for age, gender, grade point average, ethnicity, and current education level.

Cluster membership strongly predicted compliance with social distancing, COVID-19-related substance use, positive coping–keeping a daytime structure, positive coping–inner strength, and moderately predicted Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale scores. Ethnicity was significantly related to anxiety buying, compliance with political restrictions, and adherence to COVID-19-related health behaviors. Gender was significantly related to compliance with hygiene measures, compliance with political restrictions, COVID-19 stressor impact, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale scores.

Results suggested that anxious and avoidant attachment to God and Chance HLOC were associated with higher anxiety, substance use, sleep disturbances, and beliefs that compliance with COVID-19-related health behaviors was necessary. Those who identified as female and minority ethnicities reported higher anxiety, greater impacts of COVID-19-related stressors, and higher belief and compliance with COVID-19-related health behaviors.

In clinical settings, assessing for undergraduate students’ attachment to God and HLOC may be beneficial, as higher scores on the internal HLOC and lower scores on avoidant or anxious attachment to God were related to better mental health outcomes and less maladaptive coping strategies. Assessing for mental health needs of those who identify as female and minority ethnicities may also be beneficial for clinicians, as these populations reported greater negative mental health impacts and subjective stressors during the pandemic.

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Psychology Commons