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Table of Contents
NEWS & VIEWS
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 127-131

Effect of Practicing Calligraphy on the Development of Children's Emotional Intelligence


1 USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200241, China
2 The School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
3 Shanghai Academy of Educational Science, Shanghai 200032, China

Date of Submission05-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance06-May-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Jun- Sheng Liu
The School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_18_21

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How to cite this article:
Zhou B, Liu JS, Sang B. Effect of Practicing Calligraphy on the Development of Children's Emotional Intelligence. Chin Med Cult 2021;4:127-31

How to cite this URL:
Zhou B, Liu JS, Sang B. Effect of Practicing Calligraphy on the Development of Children's Emotional Intelligence. Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 26];4:127-31. Available from: https://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2021/4/2/127/320173




  Introduction Top


The relationship between practicing calligraphy and individual emotion is an important facet of ancient calligraphic theory. Ancient traditional Chinese medicine books contain records of emotional therapy. Chinese calligraphy can regulate emotions and cultivate children's temperament and intelligence. Huang Di Nei Jing (《黄帝内经》Huangdi's Internal Classic) not only establishes the theoretical system of traditional Chinese medicine to guide the clinical practice but also includes many discussions about pediatrics, such as the growth and development of children, physical characteristics, congenital factors causing disease, diagnosis and prognosis of some diseases, etc. The earliest pediatrics monograph, Lu Xin Jing (《颅囟经》Lu Xin Pediatrics Classic), popular in the late Tang dynasty and the early Song dynasty, presented the viewpoint of pure yang in infants and young children and discussed the pulse-taking in children and the treatment of convulsion. Qian Yi (钱乙)'s Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue (《小儿药证直诀》Key to Therapeutics of Children's Diseases) established the syndrome differentiation system of the five Zang organs in pediatrics. It is currently the most important treatment method in TCM pediatrics syndrome differentiation, stating that the heart governs shock, the liver governs wind, the spleen governs tiredness, the lung governs panting, the kidney governs deficiency, and so on. The four major schools in the Jin and Yuan dynasties had their own specialties and contributed to pediatrics. Liu Wansu (刘完素) advocated the use of pungent, cooling, and bitter cold herbs to purge heat and nourish yin in the treatment of children's febrile disease, stating that febrile venereal diseases could be treated with the purging method. Li Gao (李杲) attached importance to regulating the spleen and stomach. Zhu Zhenheng (朱震亨) believed that children's “yang is often surplus whereas yin is insufficient (阳常有余,阴常不足),” so the method of nourishing yin is suitable. With the development of health and the progress of science and technology, people pay attention not only to the physical development of children but also to their psychological and emotional development. At present, acupuncture, tuina, cupping, and other traditional Chinese medicine therapies, music, calligraphy, and so on, are topics of considerable interest.

The ancients discussed three dimensions of the relationship between practicing calligraphy and emotions. First, the ancients believed that the content of the writing affect the emotional state of the person doing the writing; when “sad” was written, the person writing it would feel sad and when “worry” was written, the person writing it would feel worried. Sun Guoting (孙过庭) wrote in Shu Pu (《书谱》A Narrative on Calligraphy) that “ when Wang Xizhi (王羲之) wrote Yue Yi (《乐毅》 On Yue Yi), he was affectionate; he was melancholy when he wrote Hua Zan (《画赞》Drawing Praise); he was cheerful when he wrote Huang Ting Jing (《黄庭经》Yellow Court Classic) that was grateful when he wrote Tai Shi Zhen (《太师箴》The Proverbs of Grand Preceptor)”. Second, the ancients believed the style of a person's calligraphy reflected their emotional state. In this regard, Chen Yizeng (陈怿曾) of the Yuan dynasty has a brilliant summary in Han Lin Yao Jue (《翰林要诀》Hanlin Calligraphy Knacks ) that “Different emotions lead to different calligraphic styles. During joy, the qi would be harmonized and the calligraphy would be more cheerful; while during anger, the qi would accumulate and the calligraphy would be more ungraceful; during sorrow, the qi would be stuck and the calligraphy would be restrained; during happy, the qi would be smooth and the calligraphy would be pretty. There are light and heavy emotions and the calligraphy will also change from cheerful, ungraceful, restrained to pretty. There are infinite changes.” Finally, the ancients believed that negative emotions could be eliminated and psychological balance could be achieved through practicing calligraphy. Calligraphy “书” which sounds like “抒 (express emotions)” in Chinese could express positive and negative emotions. As Su Shi (苏轼) said, “when you feel melancholy or uneasy, a brush would solve it.”[1] However, the above discussion is based on the experience of the ancients, which lacks empirical research support.

At present, some scholars have taken the lead in researching calligraphic psychology. By recording the various physiological activities when practicing calligraphy, they found that changes can be observed in breath, pulse, blood volume, blood pressure, and electroencephalogram activity. They believe that calligraphy can regulate and stabilize emotions, help people focusing their attention on one thing, activate cognition, enhance perceptual sensitivity, and reduce one's level of anxiety through practicing calligraphy, all of which has a positive impact on one's emotional state. Based on research, some scholars have found that practicing calligraphy constantly can help one to enter a peaceful, stable, soothing and tranquil emotional state, relieve anxiety, unease and tension, as well as maintain physical and mental well-being.[2] These studies suggest that practicing calligraphy have an important and far-reaching impact on an individual's emotions. Most, however, describe the process from the physiological perspective, which lack continuous follow-up study. As a result, they are unable to show the lasting effect of practicing calligraphy on individuals, especially on children's emotional development. The purpose of this study was to explore, through a 2-year follow-up study, the effects of practicing calligraphy on children's emotional and intellectual development.

The definition of emotional intelligence would be defined here before the beginning of the research. Emotional intelligence refers to an individual's ability to monitor their own and others' emotions and to recognize and use this information to direct their thoughts and actions. According to Goleman, there are five dimensions of emotional intelligence: the ability to recognize one's own emotions, the ability to manage one's emotions, the ability to motivate oneself, the ability to recognize other's emotions, and the ability to manage interpersonal relationships.[3] The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of practicing calligraphy on children's emotional and intellectual development from the perspective of developmental psychology, using longitudinal research design. This study used a randomized block design, comparing the experimental group and the control group to explore the impact of practicing calligraphy on five different dimensions of children's emotional intelligence.


  Methods Top


Subjects

Using the random cluster sampling method, two fourth-grade classes were randomly selected from a primary school in Shanghai as the experimental class for calligraphy intervention training. At the same time, a parallel class without any intervention was selected in the same grade of this school to act as the study control class. The experimental class and the control class were roughly the same in terms of students' performance, teacher's professional competence, and so on. The total number of subjects in the pre-test stage was 124. Among them, eighty-eight subjects in the experimental group and 36 subjects in the control group were tested. After eliminating invalid questionnaires, a total of 114 subjects were tested, accounting for 92% of the pre-test group. There were 80 subjects in the experimental group, forty-three males and 37 females. There were 34 subjects in the control group, 16 males and 18 females.

Evaluation instrument

The emotional intelligence scale for children and adolescents was developed based on Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence.[4] Five dimensions of the emotional intelligence level of children and adolescents are tested: (1) management of interpersonal relationship: being able to socialize and actively and effectively develop relationships; (2) self-motivation: being able to stay enthusiastic and optimistic, to inspire oneself in time, to pursue challenges, and to deal with setbacks; (3) emotional management: being able to effectively and moderately control, express, vent or change one's negative emotional feelings; (4) recognizing own's emotions: being constantly aware of own state of mind, being able to perceive, recognize, and clearly express own emotional feelings; (5) recognizing other's emotions: being aware of and understand other people's feelings and thoughts. The results of the factor analysis showed that the cumulative amount of variance explained by the five factors amounted to 52% and the internal consistency coefficient of the scale: α = 0.87. The findings suggest that the scale can be used as a valid instrument to measure the emotional intelligence of adolescents.

Experimental design

In this study, a three-factor experimental design [three grouping factors (independent variables A, B, and C) and one observed value (dependent variable)] was used to measure a factor repeatedly. Independent variable 1 (internal variable), time, was divided into two levels: pre-test and post-test. Independent variable 2 (between-subject variable), practicing calligraphy, was divided into two levels: the experimental group (practicing calligraphy) and the control group (not practicing calligraphy). Independent variable 3 (between-subject variable), gender, was divided into male and female. The dependent variable was the five dimensions of emotional intelligence.

Experimental procedure

Pre-test

The pre-test of the emotional intelligence scale for children and adolescents was conducted in the selected primary school in September 2005.

Calligraphy training intervention

The selected experimental classes were provided with calligraphy training courses together. Both the experimental group and control group would go through pre-test and post-test.

Post-test

The post-test of the emotional intelligence scale for children and adolescents was carried out in the same primary school in July 2007.


  Results Top


The raw data were summarized, and the database was established by Microsoft Excel and SPSS Statistics for Windows version 11.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, USA) was imported for statistical analysis.

Descriptive statistics of the development of emotional intelligence

The descriptive statistics of the test scores of the experimental group and the control group before and after the two tests are shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Descriptive statistics of children's emotional intelligence development

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Effect of practicing calligraphy on children's emotional intelligence development

Repeated one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed for the five dimensions of emotional intelligence. The intra-group variables were time and the inter-group variables were the practicing of calligraphy and gender. The results of ANOVA are shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Effect of calligraphy practice on children's emotional intelligence development

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According to the analysis, the effects of time were mainly reflected in three dimensions: management of interpersonal relationships (P < 0.01), recognizing own's emotions (P < 0.01), and recognizing the emotions of others (P < 0.05). The scores of the subjects in the post-test were significantly higher than those in the pre-test. The main effect of practicing calligraphy was significant in emotional management (P < 0.01), recognizing own's emotions (P < 0.01) and recognizing the emotions of others (P < 0.01). The effects of gender were mainly reflected in three dimensions: management of interpersonal relationships (P < 0.01), self-motivation (P < 0.01), and recognizing own's emotions (P < 0.01). The three abilities of female subjects were significantly better than those of male subjects (P < 0.01).

The interaction between time and practicing calligraphy was extremely significant (P < 0.01) in recognizing own's emotions and recognizing the emotions of others. In the dimension of management of interpersonal relationships, the interaction between time and practicing calligraphy was significant (P < 0.05). In terms of management of interpersonal relationships and emotional management, the interaction of time and gender reached the level of high and extremely high (P < 0.05; P < 0.01). Other pairwise and three-way interactions were not significant.


  Discussion Top


Development of children's emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important factor in determining whether an individual will succeed as it directly affects the individual's overall psychological well-being. From the results of this study, the emotional intelligence development of children at this age was not balanced. The three dimensions of management of interpersonal relationships, recognizing own's emotions, and recognizing the emotions of others showed obvious improvement, but there was no significant difference between self-motivation and managing own's emotions.

From the perspective of gender differences, girls' emotional intelligence development level was higher than that of boys. This result was consistent with the rate of development in both sexes. Girls at this age have an advantage over boys in overall physical and mental development. In addition, two of the five dimensions, management of interpersonal relationship and emotional management, reached significant levels in terms of the interaction of time and gender. Further analysis showed that there was no significant difference between the pre-test and post-test scores of girls, while the boys' scores in the post-test were significantly higher than the pre-test. This indicates that boys at this age develop faster than girls in these two dimensions.

The results of this study indicate that the emotional intelligence of children in the upper elementary grades is in the process of development and that there are some differences in the developmental patterns of the different components of it. Management of interpersonal relationship, recognizing own's emotions, and recognizing other's emotions increased significantly at this age. In addition, there were some differences in the rate and pattern of development of emotional intelligence in boys and girls.

Impact of practicing calligraphy on children's emotional intelligence development

The focus of this study was on whether practicing calligraphy has a positive impact on children's emotional intelligence development. According to the results, practicing calligraphy had a positive effect on three dimensions of emotional intelligence, namely emotional management, recognizing own's emotions, and recognizing the emotions of others, but there was no obvious effect on management of interpersonal relationship and self-motivation.

The reason for the above effect may be that in the process of calligraphic writing, one needs to pay attention to every action of writing, and control the activities of shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and finger. In this process, physiological changes such as breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure will occur. By regulating mind and breathing, the writer can experience a relaxed feeling.[5] During the process of writing, the writer often uses his or her own physiological state as a point of reference to gauge his or her emotional state at that time. When relaxation is felt, the writer will extend the experience.[6] One of the most important ways to cultivate emotional intelligence is to reflect on own emotional activities. Salovey and others argue that this is actually a “meta-emotion.”[7] As part of self-consciousness, it can directly participate in individual's emotional activities. At the same time, it can also be used to examine and evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of human emotional activities from the aspects of goals and means, present and future, reality and ideal, short-term and long-term, so as to improve some aspects of individual emotional intelligence.[8] Nevertheless, the process of using the practice of calligraphy to identify the state of mind, and then improving the feelings of service through the “meta-emotion”, and ultimately improving the emotional intelligence, is, at present, still a hypothesis that needs to be further studied.


  Conclusions Top


A longitudinal study design was used to examine the effect of calligraphy practice on children's emotional intelligence development. The results of the study showed that: (1) the main effect of time was significant on the ability to manage interpersonal relationships, recognize one's own emotions, and recognize others' emotions; (2) the main effect of calligraphy practice was extremely significant on the three dimensions: emotional management, recognizing own's emotions, and recognizing other's emotions; (3) the main effect of gender was significant on four dimensions: management of interpersonal relationship, self-motivation, emotional management, and recognizing own's emotions; (4) the interaction between time and calligraphy practice was significant for the dimensions of recognizing own's emotions, management of interpersonal relationship, and recognizing other's emotions; and (5) the interaction between time and gender was significant for the dimensions of management of interpersonal relationship and emotional management. Thus, calligraphy practice positively contributes to some components of emotional intelligence.

Translator: Shin-Wei Lee (李欣薇)

Funding

This study was financed by the grant from A Key Project of Philosophy and Social Science Research of the Ministry of Education of China in 2016 (No. 16JZD031).

Authors' contributions

Bin Zhou put forward the concept and designed this paper. Jun-Sheng Liu collected data. Bin Zhou and Jun-Sheng Liu analyzed and interpreted the results. Bin Zhou and Jun-Sheng Liu prepared draft manuscript. Biao Sang provided critical revision of the article. All authors reviewed the results and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Ethical approval

The authors have no ethical conflicts to disclose.

Conflicts of interest

None.



 
  References Top

1.
Yang CX, Sun BJ. Introduction to ancient Chinese calligraphic psychology. Calligraphic Art 1996;5:72-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Gao SR. Calligraphic psychotherapy. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong Press; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Goleman D. Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Sun YZ. The relationship between attachment quality, emotional intelligence and adaptation in adolescents. Taiwan: National Sun Yat‐Sen University; 2004.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Luo ZX, Miao DM, An C, Gao SR. A preliminary study on the emotional effect of calligraphy training of military college students. Chin J Ment Health 2000;14:256-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Zhou B, Liu JS, Sang B. The influence of calligraphy practice on children's personality development. Psychol Sci 2005;28:1266-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Salovey P, Mayer JD. Emotional Intelligence. Imagin Cogn Pers 1990;9:185-211.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Sitarenios G. Emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence. Emotion 2001;1:232-42.  Back to cited text no. 8
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

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