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  • Open Access
  • © 2023

When Children Draw Gods

A Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach to Children's Representations of Supernatural Agents

  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

  • Explores how children draw god around the world

  • Analyzes a large variety of cultural and religious traditions

  • Brings together scholars from different disciplines and countries

Part of the book series: New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion (NASR, volume 12)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (20 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-viii
  2. Introduction to the Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Project Children’s Drawings of Gods: Presentation of the Project and of this Book

    • Pierre-Yves Brandt, Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Christelle Cocco, Dominique Vinck, Frédéric Darbellay
    Pages 1-12Open Access
  3. Towards an Integrative Model

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 13-13
    2. Integrative Model of Children’s Representations of God in Drawings

      • Pierre-Yves Brandt, Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Grégory Dessart, Hanneke Muthert, Hanneke Schaap-Jonker
      Pages 15-42Open Access
  4. Focus on the Main Figure: Anthropomorphic and Gender Features

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 43-43
    2. Construction and Transgression of Gender Categories in Representations of Divine Figures: A Cross-Cultural Study of Children’s Drawings

      • Grégory Dessart, Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Pierre-Yves Brandt
      Pages 127-152Open Access
    3. Where Gods Dwell? Part I: Spatial Imagery in Children’s Drawings of Gods

      • Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Christelle Cocco, Grégory Dessart, Pierre-Yves Brandt
      Pages 153-170Open Access
    4. Where Gods Dwell? Part II: Embodied Cognition Approach and Children’s Drawings of Gods

      • Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Christelle Cocco, Grégory Dessart, Pierre-Yves Brandt
      Pages 171-187Open Access
  5. Focus on Material Features

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 189-189
    2. Automated Colour Identification and Quantification in Children’s Drawings of God

      • Christelle Cocco, Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Pierre-Yves Brandt
      Pages 191-212Open Access
    3. Computer Vision and Mathematical Methods Used to Analyse Children’s Drawings of God(s)

      • Christelle Cocco, Raphaël Ceré
      Pages 213-244Open Access
  6. Focus on Emotional Features and Attachment Style

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 245-245
    2. Emotional Expression in Children’s Drawings of God

      • Richard P. Jolley, Grégory Dessart
      Pages 247-284Open Access
  7. Focus on Specific Cultural Contexts

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 323-323
    2. Iranian Children’s Drawings of God: Demographic and Contextual Considerations

      • Mohammad Khodayarifard, Reza Pourhosein, Shahla Pakdaman, Saeid Zandi
      Pages 325-361Open Access
    3. The First Discoveries and the Challenges of Researching Representations of Gods in a Continental Country Such as Brazil

      • Alberto Domeniconi Küntgen-Nery, Camila Mendonça Torres, Esdras Guerreiro Vasconcellos, Wellington Zangari
      Pages 363-382Open Access
  8. Focus on Non-Representability and Prohibition

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 383-383

About this book

This open access book explores how children draw god. It looks at children’s drawings collected in a large variety of cultural and religious traditions. Coverage demonstrates the richness of drawing as a method for studying representations of the divine. In the process, it also contributes to our understanding of this concept, its origins, and its development.

This intercultural work brings together scholars from different disciplines and countries, including Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Iran, Brazil, and the Netherlands. It does more than share the results of their research and analysis. The volume also critically examines the contributions and limitations of this methodology. In addition, it also reflects on the new empirical and theoretical perspectives within the broader framework of the study of this concept.

The concept of god is one of the most difficult to grasp. This volume offers new insights by focusing on the many different ways children depict god throughout the world. Readers will discover the importance of spatial imagery and color choices in drawings of god. They will also learn about how the divine's emotional expression correlates to age, gender, and religiosity as well as strategies used by children who are prohibited from representing their god.


  • Open Access
  • Anthropomorphism and God
  • Children’s Drawings of God
  • Children and Religion
  • Children’s Representation of Supernatural Agents
  • Computer Vision in Psychology
  • Drawings of God(s)
  • Gender and God in Drawings
  • Intercultural Analysis of Children’s Drawings
  • Interdisciplinary Approach of Images
  • Intercultural Database of Children's Drawings
  • children's drawing of god accross cultures

Editors and Affiliations

  • Institute for Social Sciences of Religions, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Pierre-Yves Brandt, Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert

  • Institute for Social Sciences of Religions University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Christelle Cocco

  • Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Dominique Vinck

  • Center for Children’s Rights Studies, University of Geneva (Valais Campus), Sion, Switzerland

    Frédéric Darbellay

About the editors

Pierre-Yves Brandt is Professor of the Psychology of Religion at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His interests include children’s representations of God, psychological construction of religious identity, religious coping among seniors and patients with schizophrenia, and spiritual care in hospitals and care homes. He is the President of the Fondation des Archives Jean Piaget (since 2001) and of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR ; since 2015) and the chair of the Institute of Social Sciences of Religions, Faculty of Theology and Sciences of Religions, University of Lausanne (since 2016).

Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert is lecturer in psychology of religion at the University of Lausanne. Her current research focuses on two areas of psychology of religion: 1) children’s representations of the divine and 2) the relation between religion/spirituality and health/well-being.

Christelle Cocco, is senior SNSF researcher at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in the Institute for Social Sciences of Religions. Her research focuses on data mining and data analysis applied to digital data coming from human and social sciences projects, using methods from various fields, such as image processing, computer vision, computational musicology and computational linguistics.

Dominique Vinck is full Professor at the University of Lausanne (UNIL). He is member of the Social Sciences Institute and director of the Revue d’Anthropologie des Connaissances. His research interests are in the sociology of science and innovation with a focus on the engineering of digital humanities and cultures. His publications include among others: Pratiques de l’interdisciplinarité (PUG, 2000), Everyday Engineering. An Ethnography of Design and Innovation (MIT Press, 2003), The Sociology of Scientific Work (Edward Elgar, 2010), Ingénieur aujourd’hui (PPUR, 2015), Sciences et technologies émergentes : pourquoi tant de promesses ? (Hermann, 2015), Humanités numériques : la culture face aux nouvelles technologies (Le Cavalier Bleu, 2016), Critical studies of innovation: Alternative approaches to the pro-innovation bias (Edward Elgar, 2017), Les métiers de l’ombre de la Fête des Vignerons (Antipodes, 2019), Staging Collaborative Design and Innovation: An Action-Oriented Participatory Approach (Edward Elgar, 2020), Handbook on Alternative Theories of Innovation (Edward Elgar, 2021).

Dr. Frédéric Darbellay is Professor of Inter- and Transdisciplinarity at the Centre for Children's Rights Studies (University of Geneva) and Head of Inter- and Transdisciplinarity Unit. His main areas of interests are Inter- and Transdisciplinary research and teaching, Epistemology, Creativity, Higher Education Studies, Children’s Rights and Digital Humanities. His research focuses on the study of interdisciplinarity as a creative process of knowledge production between and beyond disciplines. He is author of several publications on the theory and practice of inter- and transdisciplinarity through multiple scientific fields in higher education

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)