Different attachment styles in relation to children’s “drawings of God”: a qualitative exploration of the use of symbols in a Dutch sample

Hanneke Muthert, Hanneke Schaap - Jonker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The development and functioning of representations of God are complex processes, in which different psychological and cultural factors mutually influence each other. Attachment is seen as a psychological factor that could provide us with new insights into the representation and communication of ideas and experiences regarding supernatural agents in children’s drawings and narratives. Our hypothesis is that securely attached children will use more God representation-related symbols in their drawings than children who are insecurely attached and that these symbols will have a referring and self-transcending character. In this chapter, we therefore explore children’s drawings of “God” and their accompanying narratives in relation to their attachment styles. After describing our theoretical framework, we discuss the research process, how we combined theory with the materials, and the most important findings and questions of the various subprojects by Master’s students in Groningen. We then present a qualitative analysis of 12 drawings by insecurely attached children and 12 drawings by securely attached children, focusing mainly on qualitative aspects of the children’s drawings of “God” and their use of religious symbols. Secure attachment turned out to be associated with more “God” representation-related symbols. Drawing aspects other than religious symbols can also be seen as relating to attachment. We therefore compare the occurrence of attachment characterizations of relationships with “God” as reflected in the drawings and narratives. In addition, we compare drawings by securely and insecurely attached children in terms of the padding of the paper and the use of anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic images of “God”. Finally, we focus on the concrete localization of “God” as drawn on the paper, as well as the figurative place where “God” was imagined. Our chapter ends up with conclusions and discussion
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication When Children Draw Gods
Subtitle of host publicationA Multicultural and Interdisciplinary Approach to Children's Representations of Supernatural Agents
Editors Pierre-Yves Brandt
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov-2020

Publication series

NameNew Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion”

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