Ego States and the Image of God in Personal Prayer: Psycholinguistic Analysis

Keywords: social transaction, Ego state, «Child», «Father», «Adult», image of God, religious discourse, personal prayer.


Introduction. The results of theoretical substantiation and empirical study of personal prayer in the context of an interdisciplinary approach, which combines, on the one hand, the basic ideas and positions of the theory of transactional analysis and Ego states according to E. Bern, on the other hand, the ideas and techniques of modern psycholinguistics are describes and interprets in the article. It is substantiated that such an approach makes it possible to constructively supplement the basic metaphysical, spiritual, theological understanding of prayer with its full-fledged scientific analysis.

Methods & Techniques. The sample of Ukrainian respondents of different ages and social status, self-identified as «Christians», according to the «Techniques of Studying Religious Activity» (D. Smirnov), is divided into four subgroups: the lowest, the lowest than the average, the highest than the average and the highest level of religious activity. Each was offered two related tasks («My Prayer» and «God’s Answer») with special instructions, after which the texts of personalized prayers as discourses of two «Ego states» were received and analyzed. In the context of the psycholinguistic direction of the study, the method of predicative text analysis was used (А. Leontiev, T. Dridze, N. Zhinkin). For the sake of clarification, the qualitative data was supplemented by a quantitative content analysis method using the «Textanz» computer software (version And the results were summarized and compared in the context of four previously separated subgroups of respondents.

Results. It is theoretically substantiated that prayer as a religious discourse should be considered not only in the context of broad social cognition and interaction, but also as a component of self-knowledge, self-understanding, self-construction of Personality. It has been empirically established that in the process of personal prayer as a reference to God with certain requests, thanksgiving, repentance and praise, the harmonious communicative transaction «Child»/«Father» is most often implicated (31.45% persons). So, for almost a third of the surveyed God, God is definitely a loving Father. However, disharmonious, conflicting transactions of various types – «Child» / «Parent», «Child» / «Adult», «Adult» / «Adult», are found quite frequently (approximately 40% persons).

Conclusions. The results are viewed as one of the consequences and manifestations of the current crisis of the whole society, when, in the context of chronic and global distrust of any authority, centuries-old sacral values are also partially negated, and God begins to be perceived as an indifferent «Father» or an too liberal «Head».


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How to Cite
Savelyuk , N. (2020). Ego States and the Image of God in Personal Prayer: Psycholinguistic Analysis. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 27(1), 219-236.