God and Family Question­naires


The God and Family Question­naires were developed by Rizzuto (1979) as part of a clinical study exploring the forma­tion of an individual’s God representation. Rather than consisting of a static image or a purely cognitive understanding, this repre­sentation is conceptualized as a complex mental process that evolves across the life span and is impacted and influenced by past, present, and anticipated experiences with others. Furthermore, it is mitigated by actual interactions, memories, wishes, needs, fears, and defenses.

That early interactions with significant others (primarily parents) form the basis for what one believes about God has been well documented in the literature (Beit-Hallahrni & Argyle, 1975; Godin & Hallez, 1965; Jus­ tice & Lambert, 1986; Nelson, 1971;

Strunk, 1959; Tamayo & Disjardins, 1976; Tamayo & Dugas, 1977; Vergote & Aubert, 1972; Vergote et al., 1969). However, Riz­zuto departs from Freud’s classic (1907/ 1959) psychodynarnic position that God is merely an exalted father by contending that in addition to both parents and other significant persons contributing to a child’s God representation, the wished-for parents and the feared parents that exist in a child’s imagination also contribute to the process.

Rizzuto contends that the God represen­tation is formed in what Winnicott (1971) termed the transitional space between real­ity and fantasy, which is significant devel­opmentally as the child begins to develop a sense of the continuing nature of people and relationships. This space is also occupied by objects such as teddy bears and blankets, which the child lays aside as development progresses. Unlike these objects, one’s God representation is never completely put aside, but persists throughout life in an individual’s internal world.


The God and Family Ques­tionnaires are based on psychoanalytic, ob­ject relations, and self psychological theo­ries of development and are designed to reveal the nature of an individual’s internal­ized images of (and beliefs about) self, oth­ers, and God. The questionnaires are pre­sented in a parallel format consisting of sentence sterns, one with questions about God and the other with questions about fam­ ily. The respondent completes the sentence sterns according to his or her own beliefs and God representation.

Practical Considerations:

Administration of the God and Family Questionnaires is straightforward and fairly easy; the respon­dent merely completes the sentence sterns. The questionnaires are not scored per se but are interpreted in light of developmental and psychodynarnic theory. The details of this criteria were not reported in Rizzuto’s (1979) original study.


Because the pur­pose of Rizzuto’s (1979) original study was an in-depth investigation into the roots of the formation of God representation and be­ cause much of the data was clinical in na­ture, no norms were developed. However, when the clinical sample on which the pub­lished results are based was compared with a pilot project sample of 20 nonclinical sub­ jects, Rizzuto found no clinically significant differences in the way these two groups re­lated to God.


No statistical reliabilities are re­ ported for the God and Family Question­naires. Development and interpretation of the questionnaires were done according to psychoanalytic, object relations, and self psychological theory, which suggests some measure of internal reliability of the items.


The face validity of the question­naires is high; the items clearly relate to one’s experience of God and family. The data obtained from the questionnaires were corroborated by information obtained from the patient’s families, medical and psychi­atric records, a psychodynarnic evaluation, and a formulation of the patient’s religious development.

God Questionnaire


  • I feel/do not feel close to God because
  • The time of my life when I felt the closest to God was when and I was old because
  • I think that in general, as a person I have pleased/dissatisfied God because
  • I think that God wants/does not want me to be good because
  • I believe/do not believe in a personal God because years


  • The time in my life when I felt the most distant from God was when I was because
  • My most important duties toward God are


  • For me, the love of God towards me is/is not important because
  • For me, my love for God is/is not important because
  • The feeling I get/used to get from my relationship with God is one of because


  • I feel that the fear of God is/is not important because
  • What I like the most about God is because
  • What I resent the most about God is because
  • What I dislike the most about religion is because


  • Emotionally, I would like to have the because that God has


  • Among all the religious characters I know, I would like to be like because


17. My favorite saint or Bible character is because


  • I believe/do not believe in the devil because
  • I think that he wants to because
  • Sometimes I have/have not felt that I hated God because


  • I feel that what God expects from me is because
  • I feel that to obey the Commandments is/is not important because
  • I pray/do not pray because I feel God will


  • I feel that God punishes/does not punish you if you because
  • I think that God considers my sins as because
  • I think that the way God has to punish people is because
  • I believe that the way God rewards people is because


  • I think that God provides/does not provide for my needs because
  • The most important thing I expect from God is because


  • In my way of feeling, for me to fully please God I would have to because
  • If I could change my past, I would like to change my because

  • If I can change myself now, I would like to be because

  • If I can change myself now, I would like to change my because

  • If I can change myself now, I would like to improve my because

  • If I can change myself now, I would like to increase my because


  • If I am in distress, I resort/do not resort to God because

  • If I am happy, I thank/do not thank God because

  • Religion has/has not helped me to live because
  • If I receive an absolute proof that God does not exist, I will because

  • Prayer is/is not important to me because
  • I wish/don’t wish to be with God after death because


  • I think that God is closest to those who because


  • I consider God as my because
  • I think that God sees me as because


  • If I have to describe God according to my experiences with him, I would say that he is because


  •  The day I changed my way of thinking about God was because


  • Religion was always/never/at one time important to me (during the years from      to          ) because
  • For me, the world has/has not an explanation without God because

Family Questionnaire

Please read carefully the following questions and answer them, giving as long an explanation as you need for us to understand your real feelings.

If the answer does not need an explanation, just write the proper answer.

  1. The member of my family whom I felt the closest to was my because
  2. The member of my family whom I felt the most distant from was my because

  3. The member of the family whom I loved the most was my I loved her/him this much because

  4. The member of my family whom I disliked the most was my because she/he

  5. Physically I resemble my because

  6. Emotionally I resemble my because

  7. The favorite member of my family was my because

  8. The member of my family whom I admired the most is my because

  9. Please write down the names of the members of your family in order of preference ac­ cording to how much you like them because

  10. The member of my family whom I despised the most is because

  11. The boss in my family was my

  12. The disciplinarian in my family was my

  13. The provider in my family was my because

  14. If I could change myself, I would like to be like my because

  15. In my family we were close/very close/not close at all because I6. My father was closest to me/to my because

  16. My mother was closest to me/to my

  17. The most important person in my family was I 9. In my family the children were considered as

  18. My family was/was not divided into groups The groups were my and my

    my and my and my etc.

  19. If I described myself as I feel I actually am, I would say I am

  20. When I drew the picture of the family I felt and drew myself as being because

  21. When I drew the picture of my family, I thought the family was living in year was years old and the


Rizzuto, A. M. (l 979). The birth of living God: A psychoanalytic study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Subsequent Research:

Fay, M.A. (1983). An object relations analysis at the conscious symbolic and memory content levels of the maternal and paternal components of the rep­resentation of God in five Christian women. Disser­tation Abstracts International, 43,(12-B), 4125.

Lawrence, R. T. (1991). The God Image Inven­ tory: The development, validation and standardiza­ tion of a psychometric instrument for research, pas­ toral and clinical use in measuring the image of God (Rizzuto, Ana-Maria). Dissertation Abstracts International, 52,(o3A), 0952.

Stephens, L. D. (1991). A path analysis of a God image model among hospital psychiatric patients. Dissertation Abstracts International, 52,(10A), 3534.

Stevens, B. A. (1987). Religious responses to the Rorschach test: An application of the Urist (1977) “Mutuality of Autonomy in Portrayed Rela­ tionships” scale. Dissertation Abstracts Interna­ tional, 48(05B), 1547.


Beit-Hallahmi, B., & Argyle, M. (1975). God as father projection: The theory and evidence. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 48,71-75.

Freud, S. (1959). Obsessive actions and reli­gious practices. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 9, pp. 115-127). London: Hogarth Press (Original work published 1907).

Godin, A., & Hallez, M. ( 1965). Parental images and divine paternity. In A. Godin (Ed.), From reli­ gious experience to a religious attitude (pp. 65-96). Chicago: Loy]oa University Press.

Justice, W. G., & Lambert, W. (1986). A com­parative study of the language people use to de­ scribe the personalities of God and their earthly parents. Journal of Pastoral Care, 40, 166-172.

Nelson, M. 0. (1971). The concept of God and feelings toward parents. Journal of Individual Psy­ chology, 27, 46-49.

Strunk, 0. (1959). Perceived relationships be­ tween parental and deity concepts. Psychology Newsletter, 10, 222-226.

Tamayo, A., & Desjardins, L. (1976). Belief systems and conceptual images of parents and God. Journal of Psychology, 92, 131-140.

Tamayo, A., & Dugas, A. (1977). Conceptual representation of mother, father, and God according to sex and field of study. Journal of Psychology, 97, 9-84.

Vergote, A., & Aubert, C. (1972). Parental im­ ages and representations of God. Social Compass, 19, 431-444.

Vergote, A., Tamayo, A., Pasquali, L., Bonami, M., Pattyn, M., & Custers, A. (1969). Concept of God and parental images. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 8, 79-87.

Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Playing and reality. London: Tavistock.