British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 37 Issue 3 (September 2019), Pages i-iv, 309-446

Expressivity in children's drawings of themselves for adult audiences with varied authority and familiarity (pages 354-368)

This study investigated whether children's expressive drawings of themselves vary as a function of audience authority and familiarity. One hundred and seventy‐five children, 85 boys and 90 girls, aged between 8 years 1 months and 9 years 2 months (M = 8 years 5 months) were allocated into seven groups: a reference group (n = 25), where no audience was specified, and six audience groups (n = 25 per group) varying by audience type (policeman vs. teacher vs. man) and familiarity (familiar vs. unfamiliar). They drew baseline then happy and sad drawings of themselves, rated affect towards drawings type, and rated perceived audience authority. Audience familiarity and authority impacted expressive drawing strategy use and this varied by gender. There was higher overall expressive strategy use for happy drawings and for girls, and influences of affect type, familiarity, and authority were found. The implications of children's perceptions of audience type on their expressive drawings are discussed. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Children vary their happy and sad expressive drawings for familiar peer and adult audiences. They show more positive expressivity to familiar peer and adult audiences. Children perceive authority differently depending on professional roles. What does this study add? Children's expressive drawings differ depending on audience familiarity and professional role. Greater expressivity for familiar than unfamiliar audiences, with difference varying by perceived authority. For policemen, boys showed more sad expression when unfamiliar and girls showed more happy expression when familiar.

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