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Children’s Drawings Could Predict Their Intelligence Later In Life

Now, here’s one more reason to save your child’s first sketches. Researchers at King’s College London have found that a 4-year-old’s ability to produce an accurate drawing of a person predicts the child’s intelligence at age 14.

How the study was done

For the study, 15,504 4-year-olds (7,752 pairs of identical and fraternal twins) were each asked to make a figure drawing of a child in the Draw-a-Child test.

The drawings were scored on a scale of 0-12 for accuracy. For instance, points were given for two eyes and deducted for a third or fourth eye. The children were given intelligence tests and then tested again ten years later. Higher Draw-a-Child scores correlated with higher intelligence scores for the 4-year-olds and 14-year-olds.

Drawing correlates with intelligence

“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,” Rosalind Arden, the paper’s lead author, said in a release. “What surprised us was that it correlated with intelligence a decade later.”

The study isn’t bad news for parents whose children’s portraits look like electrical storms or smudgy spiders, Arden says. “The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly.”

“Drawing ability does not determine intelligence; there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, that affect intelligence later in life.”

Drawing has a genetic link

The researchers also looked at whether a child’s drawing ability was inherited. They did this by separating the drawings of identical and non-identical twins and comparing them.

Identical twins share all their genes, while non-identical twins share only 50% of their genes.

However, both usually share the same family background and upbringing.

As the drawings from identical twins were more similar to one another than those from non-identical twin pairs, the researchers concluded that drawing ability had a genetic link.

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