Survey research indicates that substantial numbers of Americans believe in angels. For example, in a survey conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post (1994) on a national sample of 1,523 people, it was estimated that approximately 75 percent of the American public believed in angels; belief was not found to vary with ethnicity or political party.
There was some slight variance with respect to educational background, annual income, political ideology, age and gender; however, in all categories the numbers of believers remained high. Moreover, in another poll conducted by CBS News in 1993, the numbers were even higher with over 80 percent of the public not only believing in angels but believing that they personally had guardian angels.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the literature on the psychology of angels from the standpoint of people who believe in angelic beings. Specifically, the paper examines what those who believe in angels believe that angels do and why they do these things.
It is important to note that the majority of this research is either biblical (based on scriptures) or anecdotal consisting primarily of interview data collected from people telling their stories of angelic encounters. Therefore, the bulk of the research reviewed in this paper consists of these two types of research.
Also, as noted by Anderson (1992), the anecdotal literature on angels tends to be collected from two categories of people: those with traditional religious beliefs (Christians, Jews, etc.) and those with more New Age beliefs. While the foregoing categories of discourse on angels have some clear differences, Anderson (1992) states that they also have definite similarities. It is primarily the similarities that are examined here.
These similarities include the notions that angels: (1) bring messages to man from God; (2) provide guidance and give instructions; (3) provide protection and deliverance fro...