Religious conversion has been described as a “spiritual transformation” where converts experience an “intimate ‘union’ . . . [with] divine presence” (Sandage & Shults, 2007). To better understand motivators of conversion, several studies have examined how attachment patterns affect the likelihood, and speed of religious conversion (e.g., Granqvist & Hagekull, 1999; Granqvist & Kirkpatrick, 2004; Kirkpatrck, 1998; Kirkpatrick & Shaver, 1990; Schnitker, Porter, Emmons, & Barrett, 2012). Converts' changes in personality, self-definition, and meaningfulness following conversion have been noted (Halama and Lačná, 2011; Paloutzian, Richardson, & Rambo, 1999). However, little, if any research has been conducted examining changes in attachment patterns of converts that occur following conversion. The current study, a follow-up to Hansen, Page, Fischer, and Williams (2014), examined the post-conversion attachment changes for 39 committed converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (ranging in time since baptism from 2 months to 35 years). Interviews were conducted previously (see Hansen, et al., 2014) in a semi-structured format by two undergraduate researchers (ranging from 30-60 minutes in length) and then transcribed by a third undergraduate research assistant. Two additional research assistants listened to the recordings and edited the transcriptions (Hansen, et al., 2014). Beginning with a theory-driven conceptual framework in the analysis, a qualitative hermeneutic interpretive method (see Jackson & Patton,1992; Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009) was used in the current study to explore the converts' transcripts. The converts were not asked specific questions regarding their relationships at the time of the interview. However, the converts spontaneously revealed various attachments patterns in the way that they spoke of themselves, their family, and their friends in their narratives. Three overarching themes were drawn from the analysis. The converts (a) demonstrated evidence of attachment patterns in their narratives; (b) experienced a spiritual conversion or an experience of having a new or closer relationship with God beyond a projection of their parental attachment style; and (c) experienced a spiritual restructuring of their attachment patterns. In other words, they described feeling that their closer relationship with God dramatically changed the way they viewed themselves and how they interacted in relationships with others. The findings of this study have implications for understanding the impact of spirituality on attachment patterns.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





religious conversion, attachment, attachment to God, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, conversion career approach, hermeneutic, qualitative