Children’s drawing could be linked to their intelligence level


Scientists have discovered that the drawings done by a four-year-old may be an indication of his or her intelligence when they reach the age of 14.

Research indicates that although many people laugh at the crayon scribbles of children, those stick figures and balloon heads may have a hidden meaning.

The research has revealed a connection with intelligence that is gene-driven and could have a drastic effect 10 years later.

Psychologists, with the help of parents, invited 15504 children aged four to participate in a ‘draw-a-child’ test. Each picture was given a rating of zero to 12.

The scientists found a moderate link between higher scores and intelligence tests at both the age of 4 and 14.

The lead scientist from the Medical Research Council Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, Dr Rosalind Arden, said this test was developed during the 1920s to assess the intelligence of children. This implied that the correlation of the test with intelligence at age four was to be expected. However, what they found surprising was that it correlated with intelligence 10 years later.

As the correlation was moderate, the results were interesting, but this does not imply that a child who draws badly is not intelligent. There are various other factors, both environmental and genetics, which play a role in later life intelligence.

The drawings were judged on the existence and correct number of features, such as the body, arms, head, eyes, mouth, ears, nose and hair. A point was given for each accurately presented feature. Clothing was given an additional point. Features such as overall proportion, expressions and size were ignored.

The level of the drawings varied greatly between the children. Some simply scribbled and this scored zero, whereas other drew recognisable faces which was given 10 points.

Since the children were divided into pairs of non-identical and identical twins, it was possible for the scientists to determine the influence of genes on their intelligence and drawing ability. Identical twins have the same genes, while non-identical only share about 50%. Since each pair came from a similar family background and had a similar upbringing, the researchers were able to eliminate traits which are driven by the environment or genes.

It was found that the drawings from identical twins were more similar than those from non-identical twins. This resulted in the conclusion that genetics played a huge role in the differences between the drawings of the children.

The scientists stated that it was not clear if children who were adept in the drawing test were likely to remain interested in art. They stated that the study does not explain their artistic talent as the scoring was based on accuracy of attributes. However, the results indicate that children who express more in their drawings are slightly brighter than those who are not able to do so.

Image Credit: Brandi Jordan


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