Children's drawings of self and family: Bridging cultural and universal perspectives

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Title: Children's drawings of self and family: Bridging cultural and universal perspectives
Authors: Gernhardt, Ariane
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Heidi Keller
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Julia Becker
Abstract: Within the framework of this thesis, three studies are presented that investigated cultural similarities and differences of preschool aged children’s self- and family-drawings. The research was guided by the assumption that besides the basic structure of the drawing, specific drawing characteristics would vary cross-culturally, according to differences in cultural models and the associated understanding of self and others. Based on an ecocultural approach, families were systematically selected from diverse cultural contexts across and within national boundaries, representing three different cultural models: (1) the cultural model of psychological autonomy (characteristic for Western urban middle-class contexts), (2) the cultural model of hierarchical relatedness (representative for non-Western rural traditional contexts), and (3) mixed cultural models of autonomous relatedness (e.g., non-Western urban middle-class contexts, migration contexts). The participating children were of similar age, gender distribution, and had reached comparable structural levels of human figure drawings. Overall, the studies revealed three main findings. First, it could be confirmed that there are basic similarities in children’s graphic development. In line with previous reports, the studies demonstrated that the structural composition of the human figure as well as production principles did not differ significantly across cultures. Second, several content-based drawing features varied with cultural context and the associated cultural model. In particular, figure size, the facial depiction, and gender-specific characteristics could be linked to the culturally shaped understanding of self and others in the respective cultural context. Third, it was shown that the composition of children’s family-drawings corresponded to the structure of families in the particular cultural context, mainly with regard to number and position of family members, figure size- and gender-differentiation. The results are discussed with a focus on the role of general and culture-specific drawing characteristics in preschool aged children’s drawings of self and family. Based on these and former research findings, an integrative framework of children’s self- and family-drawings is proposed in order to shed light on the origin and relationship of the investigated drawing characteristics. Open research questions are pointed out, as well as limitations and practical implications of the study results.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-2014061112536
Subject Keywords: Kinderzeichnungen; Kulturvergleich; children's drawings; culture
Issue Date: 11-Jun-2014
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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