Is it a statement to you personally and your society? Does it make you feel more comfortable? More satisfied? Your response matters, as does the content of the drawing.”
The paper, “The Psychological Consequences of Being Drawn or Figured,” comes from the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of California, Berkeley and was led by Matthew Johnson, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Its second author is Richard Davidson, professor emeritus of psychology at Oxford University.
“Because it is so common to take photographs, we decided to think about how this drawing influenced our responses to that image,” Johnson said. “We wondered if an association between taking a picture or drawing a pig would be stronger for people who felt as if a picture or drawing was part of their identity, or for people who feel differently about their identity.”
The researchers collected a database of 3,619 photographs depicting an average of four images (each associated with either a person in the photograph or a group of people). They asked participants to read about the subjects of the photographs while they viewed them; the researchers also gave participants an “open-ended, short questionnaire” on why they took the photographs, what the images said, and the people in the photographs.
For example, participants were asked whether the photograph depicted a girl who was wearing a dress. Those who found the dress interesting, for example, seemed more likely to draw a person in the photograph.
The researchers then asked what kind of people took the photographs. More than half of the participants drew a pig, while only about 40 participants, or 7.7 percent, drew a doll. Only about a third of participants described themselves as “enthusiastic collectors.”
The researchers found that participants more generally found the photographs more meaningful and less interesting than the others. Among others, people who found the pictures more meaningful were more likely to say that people are more satisfied with their lives, whereas others had higher rates of dissatisfaction.
For example, a woman in one photograph who is wearing a dress and standing next to a group of friends had a higher satisfaction score than others who wore nothing on camera and said they had “no interest in the people they were standing near.”
The findings, based on a sample of 2,017 participants, were based on self-reported personality traits such as openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. The researchers also considered gender, age, and education to explore how people who are drawn by a photograph would
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