The impact of audience age and familiarity on children’s drawings of themselves in contrasting affective states.

Esther Burkitt, Dawn Watling

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The present study was designed to investigate the impact of familiarity and audience age on children’s self presentation in self drawings of happy, sad and neutral figures. Two hundred children (100 girls and 100 boys) with the average age of 8 yrs 2 months, ranging from 6 yrs 3 months to 10 yrs 1 month, formed two age groups and five conditions (n=20). All children completed two counterbalanced sessions. Session 1 consisted of drawing a neutral figure followed by a sad and happy figure in counterbalanced order. The drawing instructions specified the age of the audience (adult Vs. child) and familiarity (familiar Vs. unfamiliar) differently for each condition. Measures of colour preference were taken in Session 2. Certain drawing strategies, such as waving and smiling varied as a function of audience age and familiarity whilst others, such as colour use, did not. The results are discussed in terms of cue dependency and framework theories of children’s drawings and the need to be aware of specific characteristics of who children are drawing for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-234
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Communication; audience; familiarity; drawing; affect

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