The Open UniversitySkip to content

The effect of affective characterisations on the size of children's drawings

Burkitt, E.; Barrett, M. and Davis, A. (2003). The effect of affective characterisations on the size of children's drawings. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 21(4) pp. 565–583.

Full text available as:
PDF (Not Set) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (160Kb)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Previous research has yielded conflicting findings about the existence and the direction of the size changes which occur in children's drawings when they are asked to draw topics which have been given an affective characterisation. The present study was designed to investigate whether children scale up the size of drawings of topics which have been given a positive characterisation, and scale down the size of drawings of topics which have been given a negative characterisation. Two hundred and fifty-eight children aged between 4 and 11 years completed three drawings of either a man, a dog or a tree. Each child drew a baseline drawing of a neutrally characterised figure, and two further drawings of a positively and a negatively characterised version of the same figure. It was found that the children drew the positively characterised topics larger than the neutrally characterised topics, and reduced the size of the negatively characterised topics relative to the baseline drawings. These patterns occurred at all ages and with all three drawing topics. Two possible explanations of the findings are discussed: the operation of an appetitive-defensive mechanism in children, and the acquisition of pictorial conventions.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 0261-510X
Academic Unit/Department: Education and Language Studies > Childhood, Development and Learning
Education and Language Studies
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 7692
Depositing User: Esther Burkitt
Date Deposited: 16 May 2007
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2016 11:44
Share this page:


Scopus Citations

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

▼ Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340