Influences of Affect and Naming on Children's Drawings

Galpin, James Bainton (2013). Influences of Affect and Naming on Children's Drawings. PhD thesis The Open University.



Positive and negative affective characterisations have been shown to influence children’s use of size in human figure drawings. Inconsistency in the literature regarding this influence and methodological issues makes the robustness of the findings uncertain. Furthermore theoretical debate continues over the underlying mechanisms, acquired pictorial convention (APC) or an appetitive defensive mechanism (ADM), causing a differential expression of size.

The first two studies were designed to improve upon past methodology in examining the relationship between size and affect in children’s drawings: a novel model figure was developed, independent measures of affect taken and children took part in drawing production and perception tasks. The first two studies examined the influence of affect on children’s drawings of nice and nasty human figures and the role of APC and ADM. The results indicated that affectively labelling a model figure to be drawn did not reliably influence the size of children’s drawings. However, consistency in the effects of labelling on drawing perception tasks was found. This led to an examination of the features, other than size, that different children displayed in their free drawings. There was consistency shown in terms of the core features children drew for concrete objects and children appeared to be using a set of shared conventions for representing objects. This consistency of use of features was not as robust for less concrete more descriptive topics (such as nice and nasty figures). The use of a word label was also shown to influence children’s drawings when copying from a model. Children were significantly more likely to include core features from the labelled object despite these being absent in the model. Furthermore children would draw core features prior to more periphery features, supporting the core-to-periphery progression principle.

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