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Genes Influence Young Children's Human Figure Drawings and Their Association With Intelligence a Decade Later

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rosalind Arden, Maciej Trzaskowski, Victoria Garfield, Robert Plomin

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1843-1850
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume25
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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Abstract

Drawing is ancient; it is the only childhood cognitive behavior for which there is any direct evidence from the Upper Paleolithic. Do genes influence individual differences in this species-typical behavior, and is drawing related to intelligence (g) in modern children? We report on the first genetically informative study of children’s figure drawing. In a study of 7,752 pairs of twins, we found that genetic differences exert a greater influence on children’s figure drawing at age 4 than do between-family environmental differences. Figure drawing was as heritable as g at age 4 (heritability of .29 for both). Drawing scores at age 4 correlated significantly with g at age 4 (r = .33, p < .001, n = 14,050) and with g at age 14 (r = .20, p < .001, n = 4,622). The genetic correlation between drawing at age 4 and g at age 14 was .52, 95% confidence interval = [.31, .75]. Individual differences in this widespread behavior have an important genetic component and a significant genetic link with g.

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