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When is a mug not a mug? Effects of content, naming, and instructions on children's drawings.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/1993
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Journal number3
Volume56
Number of pages12
Pages291-302
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Two hundred seventy 5-year-old children produced a copy drawing of a transparent glass mug with its handle turned away. In a factorial design three factors were manipulated to examine their additive or independent influence on the child′s production of either view-specific or canonical (i.e., with the handle at the side) depictions: the content of the mug, the label used to describe it, and the explicitness of instruction. The results showed, first, that each of these variations in task demands exerted an influence on the canonicality/view-specificity of the children′s drawings. Second, these influences were both facilitative and prohibitive. So, for example, general instructions prompted canonical drawings, while very explicit instructions elicited view-specific depictions. Third, each factor exerted an independent influence upon whether or not the handle was included-there were no interactions between factors on the production of the two types of picture. These results provide further evidence against simple associations between children′s drawings and their cognitive abilities. They suggest that what children produce in studies of "drawing" may well simply inform us about the development of an understanding of adults′ communicative intent.