Drawings of gods: A Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach of Children’s Representations of Supernatural Agents


Over the last few decades the study of the concept of god (also image/representation) has become one of the main research areas of the psychology of religion. This issue has been approached from different psychological perspectives, including cognitive developmental psychology, object relations theory, cognitive psychology, attribution theory and attachment theory. The concept of god is a very complex psychological construct and many scholars have noted the limitation of its current measurement, which relied mostly on verbal measures: questionnaires, interviews, list of adjectives to describe gods, etc…
The “Drawings of gods” research, headed by Prof. Pierre-Yves Brandt, is a project developed in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Lausanne. The project aims to contribute to further understanding of the origin and development of the concept of god by using children’s drawings collected in different cultures and different religious traditions. Although the use of this method has been criticized, it has the potential to provide considerably more information on the way in which children conceptualize god. This more appropriate research tool offers the opportunity to undertake at the same time developmental and cross-cultural research, the lack of which has greatly limited advancements in the field.

Funding: Suisse National Science Foundation

Period: 01.04.2015 - 28.02.2019

Responsible : Prof. Pierre-Yves Brandt

Co-applicants: Zhargalma Dandarova-Robert, Dominique Vinck, Frédéric Darbellay         

Grégory Dessart, PhD student ; Christelle Cocco, Post-Doc reseacher; Olga Serbaeva, technician.

Web-Based Database “ Drawings of gods”

The “Drawings of gods” Web-Based Database is designed to store research data and make it available not only to scholars affiliated with the research project but also to the broader public who will be interested in this issue. Currently the database contains nearly 6000 drawings collected in Japan, Iran, Romania, Russia, Netherlands, Nepal, Switzerland, USA and it is continually growing.
In the future we expect that the database will be of interest to researchers in new countries and the database will be expanded and enriched by drawings of god from other cultures. For further information or if you would like to participate in the research, please contact the project coordinator Professor Pierre-Yves Brandt Pierre-Yves.Brandt@unil.ch


Access to database

Search interface, available in French and English, provides three modes to use it: open access, an authorized user (UNIL account) and authorized users, affiliated with the research project.
With open access, anyone can browse and view drawings, read descriptions made by a subject.
Authorized users (UNIL account) have larger access to the data.

Affiliated with the research project users are provided by a password and has various options for online working with data, access to the back page of drawings with the description made by a child, and to questionnaires filled by the children. They have also access to a larger version of the drawings.



Cocco, C., Ceré, R., Xanthos, A., Brandt P.-Y. (2019). Identification and quantification of colors in children's drawings. In Piotrowski Michael (eds.) Proceedings of the Workshop on Computational Methods in the Humanities 2018, CEUR-WS, Volume 2314, pp. 11-21.

Cocco, C., Dessart, G., Serbaeva, O., Brandt, P. Y., Vinck, D., & Darbellay, F. (2018). Potentialités et difficultés d'un projet en humanités numériques (DH): confrontation aux outils et réorientations de recherche. Digital Humanities Quarterly12(1). 

Darbellay, F., Vinck, D., Cocco, C., Dessart, G., Dandarova, Z., Brandt, P.-Y,.(2018). L'interdisciplinarité en partage: collaborer pour innover. Le projet "Dessins de dieux". InnovatiO

Dandarova Robert Z., Dessart G., Serbaeva O., Puzdriac C., Khodayarifard M., Akbari Zardkhaneh S., Zandi S., Petanova E., Ladd K.L., Brandt P.-Y., In Press. A Web-Based Database for Drawings of Gods: When the Digitals Go Multicultural. Archiv für Religionspychologie / Archive for the Psychology of Religion

Brandt, P.-Y. (2016). Représentations enfantines de dieux : comparaison inerculturelle. In G. Rainotte (Ed), Qui êtes-vous pour nous apprendre nos religions ? (pp. 39-59). (Actes de la Journée d’Etude organisée par la Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Bruxelles, 12 février 2016).

Dandarova Zh. (2013) Le dieu des enfants : entre l’universel et le contextual. In Psychologie du développement religieux. Questions classiques et perspectives contemporaines. Pierre-Yves Brandt et james M.Day (éd,). Labor et Fides.pp.159-189.

Des enfants dessinent Dieu: Oiseaux, mangas, soleils et couleurs... (2010). Brandt P.-Y. (éd.). Labor et Fides. 208 p.

Brandt, P.-Y., Kagata Spitteler, Y., Gillieron Paleologue, C. (2009). La représentation de Dieu : Comment les enfants japonais dessinent Dieu. Archives de Psychologie, 74 (290-291), pp. 171-203.

Brandt P.-Y. (2002). Un visage m'appelle. Revue de théologie et de philosophie. 134(1) pp. 49-71.


DESSART, Grégory, (2019). A Multidimensional Approach to Children’s Drawings of God in French-Speaking Switzerland: A Developmental and Socio-Cultural Account.  Doctoral dissertation. University of Lausanne. 

Graduation works :

KAGATA, Yuko, Comment des enfants japonais dessinent Dieu. DEA en (Faculté de psychologie et de sciences de l’éducation, ; Université de Genève), 2006 [codirection avec la Prof. Christiane Gillièron].

BLANVILLAIN, Frédéric, La représentation de Dieu dans les dessins d’enfants : Méthode d’analyse par classification hiérarchique (FSSP, Unil), juin 2007

HERREN, Carole, Les représentations de Dieu chez l’enfant. Mémoire de demi-licence en psychologie (FSSP, Unil), octobre 2000

Autres publications sur les dessins de dieu

Other publications



Drawings database

Pierre-Yves Brandt (ed.), Des enfants dessinent Dieu. Oiseaux, mangas, soleils et couleurs..., Genève, Labor et Fides, 2010