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Emotional Expression in Children's Drawings of God

JOLLEY, Richard P and DESSART, Grégory (2023) Emotional Expression in Children's Drawings of God. In: When Children Draw Gods: A multicultural and interdisciplinary approach to children's representations of supernatural agents. New approaches to the scientific study of religion (12). Springer, pp. 247-284. ISBN 978-3-030-94429-2

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Abstract or description

Experimental psychological research on the expressive aspects of children’s drawings has grown considerably in the last 40 years. It has reported consistently that children use the same expressive techniques as artists, despite varying opinions on how expressive drawing develops in childhood (e.g., U-shaped curve or age incremental patterns). The developmental findings have largely derived from drawing tasks that explicitly ask children to draw an emotion or mood (e.g. happy, sad, angry). Nevertheless, the pervasiveness of expression in children’s drawings is such that we might expect children to spontaneously communicate expressively in drawing tasks that do not specifically request mood. “Drawing God” is such an example due to the potential emotive aspects of the subject, both in terms of the “God Figure” and the potential representation of other subject matter in the drawing. With this in mind, this chapter sets forth two sets of analyses of over 500 children’s drawings from Switzerland, obtained from a sample of 6- to 16-year-olds. First, we report findings from a quantitative study based on artist ratings that the intensity (strength) and valence (negative to positive) of the emotional expression in the drawings varies according to gender and religiosity. Age was not a significant predictor of intensity and only weakly predicted valence. Second, we describe narrative themes derived from our own observations of the dataset, in which all themes consistently indicated the same expressive techniques reported in the psychological experimental literature. Furthermore, despite being asked only to “draw God”, the drawings displayed a wide variety of themes which can be presented as a narrative story of the Christian Gospel.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology and Counselling
Depositing User: Richard JOLLEY
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 12:16
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 14:04

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