What do your child's drawings say about his intelligence? That's a good question and now, scientists have taken a closer look at how art can tell them a bit more about a child's future mental abilities.
In order to see whether a drawing could really be used as a measure of a child's intelligence, the researchers asked children at the age of four to draw a picture of another child. Then, the pictures were scored between 0 and 12 depending on the presence and correct quantity of features, such as head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, body, arms and legs. In addition, the children were given verbal and non-verbal intelligence tests.
"The Draw-a-Child test was devised in the 1920s to assess children's intelligence, so the fact that the test correlated with intelligence at age four was expected," said Rosalind Arden, lead author of the new paper, in a news release. "What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later."
In fact, the researchers administered the verbal and non-verbal intelligence tests again when the children were 14. They found that, surprisingly, how well the children did on the drawing tests was a good indicator of how well they would perform at the age of 14.
"The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly," said Arden. "Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life."
The findings reveal how drawing does have some connection with intelligence. Even if it doesn't completely determine a child's intelligence, there is a link between artistic ability and cognitive ability.
"Drawing is an ancient behavior, dating back beyond 15,000 years ago," said Arden. "Through drawing, we are attempting to show someone else what's in our mind. This capacity to reproduce figures is a uniquely human ability and a sign of cognitive ability, in a similar way to writing, which transformed the human species' ability to store information, and build a civilization."