Young Children and Drawing Complexity: An Examination of the Effect of Age-related Cognition and Gender
Understanding the way children develop cognitively plays an important role in psychological research. Part of the ongoing research has been in the area of evaluating the drawings of young children (Cherney, Seiwert, & Dickey, & Flichtbail, 2006). It has been suggested that these drawings provide a valuable insight into the emotional and social development of children and are often used for assessing cognitive maturation ( Golomb, 2012). Lucquet (1913, 1927) as cited in Anning and Ring (2007), was an early observer of this approach and noted that drawing stages in a child’s ...view middle of the document...
This study supported in the main, that as a child increases in age, so does their drawing complexity. Additionally, the results found gender differences did occur in the drawings but only in relation to the drawings of family. Girls were more inclined to embellish their work with jewellery, clothing and fingernails but also include more proportionate human bodies with more detail. In contrast, Hanline, Milton and Phelps (2007) concluded in their study that there was no gender difference in drawing complexity and that it was the amount of time dedicated to drawing that had the most effect on complexity.
It has also been suggested that the maturation of cognitive formation is organised by the development of working memory (Besur, Eliot and Hedge et al., 1997). Case, 1987 as cited in Bensur et al., proposed that as memory develops in a child, they become more skilled at utilising learned procedures. Case also theorised that working memory can be a valuable tool in assessing the information processing capabilities in young children from four to ten years old (Bensur et al.). Case suggests that as children grow older, they acquire more working memory units that enable them to grasp the complexities and decision making involved in drawing (Bensur et al.). As a result of Case’s findings, Dennis (1987) developed a drawing complexity scale, known as the Five Drawing Tasks. This scale enables assessment of children’s drawing ability, the development of working memory and age-related cognition (Bensur et al.).
The aim of this study had two purposes. Firstly, the relationship between of age related cognitive development and drawing complexity was explored. Secondly, the effect of gender difference in level of drawing complexity was also examined. It was hypothesised that as children increase in age their drawing complexity ability will also increase. In addition it was hypothesised that females would have a higher level of drawing complexity skills than males.
The sample consisted of sixty three local school children as well as their younger siblings. Twenty one participants were excluded from the final sample. Of the remaining forty two there were 28 females and 14 males. The total mean age for the sample was 6.81 (SD = 2.31). Mean age for girls was 6.86 (SD=2.55) and the mean age for boys was 6.72 (SD=1.82).
The children were provided with paper and pencils and a maximum of one hour to complete a picture of a person or people known to them. The drawings were scored using a specifically tailored version of Dennis (1987) Five Drawing Tasks. This was a three level scale of complexity that consisted of Facial Features, Body Proportion and Picture Detail. The scores were calculated to give a total complexity score for drawing. Scores for each subcategory ranged from 0-4 with a total range from 0-12. Facial features was scored from 0 = ‘no features’ to 4 = ‘facial features with an expression and/ or finer detail’. ...