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Chris(tiane) Lange-Küttner

CPsychol AFBPsS Fellow of the HEA
Born28th March, 1957
NationalityGerman, British
EducationAbitur am Gymnasium an der Kleinen Helle, Bremen
Alma materFree University of Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
OccupationDevelopmental Psychologist
OrganizationUniversität Bremen
Notable workGestalt und Konstruktion (Huber), Drawing and Looking (Pearson), Drawing and the Non-verbal Mind (Cambridge University Press)
Spouse(s)Enno Küttner, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Family Therapist, 'Intelligence and Mental Health' Consulting Ltd.
ChildrenKarl Maximilian Küttner, LLB with German Law, MBL (International Lawyer for Competition Law, Düsseldorf); Zora Margarete Küttner BSc., MSc. (Documentary Film Producer and Researcher, London)

Chris Lange-Kuettner (born March 28, 1957) is a German-British developmental psychologist who works on visual cognition, especially drawing and visual memory development and language. She is Privatdozentin for Psychology at Bremen University.

Drawing is one of the most sophisticated devices that children use before they learn to write. Drawing helps to communicate, requires fine motor skills and creates visual symbols, icons and likenesses. Lange-Küttner published several books on drawing development, namely 'Raumbegriff und Objektbeziehungen beim Kind' (Lang), 'Gestalt und Konstruktion' (Huber), 'Drawing and Looking. Theoretical approaches to pictorial representation in children' (with Glyn V. Thomas) (Pearson) and 'Drawing and the non-verbal mind. A life-span perspective' (with Annie Vinter) (Cambridge University Press). Drawing helps to conceptualize scientific concepts or to express what cannot be said. The Gestalt aspects of drawing are immediate, holistic, elegant, and economical, while the constructive aspects of drawing are detailed and can be tedious, but can define an individual object identity. There are clearly delineated stages in typical child development, but gifted children can accelerate, some children with autism can directly map from visual memory and also typically developing young children map perspective when it is built as a trapezoid into a drawing model[1].

Early life and education[edit]

Lange-Küttner was born in the Hanseatic town of Bremen, Germany. She received her bachelor's and master's degree in 1986 from the Technical University Berlin on a study comparing school children's and children with a psychiatric diagnosis drawing themselves (figure drawing) in their bedroom (space concept). She was awarded Dr phil in Psychology with Magna Cum Laude in 1993 from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the Free University Berlin for her study of a longitudinal sample of drawings within the project 'Individual development and social structure' (Prof Edelstein). Children were drawing themselves at play (space) with their friends (number of figures) [2][3]. She was a post-doc research fellow in the Cognitive Science Lab (Prof Friederici) of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the Free University Berlin from 1993-1994 where she programmed a reaction time/accuracy task for preschool and school children to test their visual memory for objects and places[4]. In 2008, she was awarded the Venia Legendi in Psychology at the University of Bremen for her work on objects, places, and space systems in development and learning.


She was called to her first academic position as a lecturer in a Psychology department by Aberdeen University in Scotland, UK, where she worked from 1994-1999. She was awarded a British Council grant to compare word reading and visual/auditory word memory in Scottish, German, and English-speaking children at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany[5][6]. Subsequently, she moved to London to become Senior Lecturer at the London Metropolitan University where she worked until 2020. She worked as a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Konstanz from 2009-2011, and was made an affiliate associate professor at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus in 2014. Since 2021, she works as Professor at the University of Greifswald. Since 2018, she is one of two associate editors of the peer-reviewed journal Cognitive Development, and since 2019 an associate editor of Frontiers in Psychology.

She works on child development with the assumption that Jean Piaget was correct about the necessity of a symbolic phase before the onset of systematic thought, but is more interested in learning by repetition and error correction that happen in microgenetic changes during experimental sessions, as noted by Robert S. Siegler. Her particular focus in recent years is on factors that determine deterioration and recovery of performance and attention.

Objects, Places, Spaces[edit]

Like in language where children start their sentences small, with few individual words lined up, when drawing, children also start only with a few objects, but they draw big. One object can fill a page. Shrinking graphic object representations to a smaller size so that more fit onto one page requires fine motor skills and this only comes about with learning to write[7][8]. However, the structure of pictorial space changes too. Children who conceptualize one object per place begin to group them into a common area[9]. Moreover, the sequence from empty implicit space where places are denoted and occupied by figures reliably changes to drawing ground lines, spatial fields and perspective that do not require figures because spatial axes are structuring space [10]. This increased structure of spatial context takes over from the number of objects on the page in determining size, ultimately reducing a figure or an object to just a point in space[11][12]. This increasing sparseness and abstract figuration leads straight into the technical drawings in STEM subjects, or the conceptual figurations of modern art. Lange-Küttner also investigated the effect of the space concept for children's visual memory. Are individual places or bounded spatial fields better spatial contexts for memory of objects and places? Object shape memory is better predicted by object-place encoding. However, to remember places, the individual places in grids create many more units that need to be remembered than a spatial field with spatial boundaries that narrow down the search space which facilitates place memory[13]. Children on the autistic spectrum are overwhelmingly drawing object-place units, while children with ADHD are also including objects in spatial fields which have not much in common, but apart from this difference, both groups are generally unsystematic in their allocation [14], independently of their ethnicity [15]. To locate an object in a wrong place as in the offside position of a spatial field, real-world sports experience is helpful [16].

Learning and Reducing Individual Differences[edit]

Working with diverse populations can be daunting because groups are not homogeneous and the statistical standard deviations large. Combined with an interest and the educational aim to improve performance, Lange-Küttner found it highly interesting to research how performance changes and minimizes such differences during an experimental session. In repeated drawings, until about the age of 10, children try to replicate their own drawings but lose details that contribute to their Draw-a-Person test IQ, while at age 12, children become creative and draw a different persona on each repetition and keep their IQ level [17]. In contrast, in memory, repetition of always the same content, called rehearsal, improves memory [18], while novel content requires additional strategies. So although place learning can be conceptual (see above), it can also efficiently improve just by repetition fostering familiarity [19]. Also in word memory, repeated tests of memory for words build robust word representations which help to prevent intrusion of previously learned words, creeping into the memory retrieval at hand (Interference theory), independently of Multilingualism [20]. Repetition also helps to recover from partly wrong stochastic feedback which can lower children's learned abilities such as sequencing to levels from near-perfect performance to accuracy as low as 30 percent [21]. Boys with ASD did not make much difference, however, between reliable and partly wrong feedback which they trusted just as much [22].

Selected works[edit]

Lange-Küttner, C. (1989). Raumbegriff und Objektbeziehungen beim Kind. Frankfurt/M., Bern, New York: Lang, 165 pages, ISBN 3-8204-9188-0

Lange-Küttner, C. (1994). Gestalt und Konstruktion. Bern: Huber. 242 pages, ISBN 3-456-82523-4

Lange-Küttner, C. & Thomas, G. V. (Eds.) (1995). Drawing and looking. Theoretical approaches to pictorial representation in children. Pearson. 195 pages, ISBN 978-0133428827

Lange-Küttner, C. & Vinter, A. (Eds.) (2008). Drawing and the non-verbal mind: A life-span perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 351 pages, ISBN 978-0-521-87205-8

Reference List[edit]

  1. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2014). "Do drawing stages really exist? Children's early mapping of perspective". Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 8: 168-182. doi:10.1037/a0036199.
  2. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (1997). "Development of size modification of human figure drawings in spatial axes systems of varying complexity". Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 66: 264-278. doi:10.1006/jecp.1997.2386.
  3. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2004). "More evidence on size modification in spatial axes system of varying complexity". Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 88: 171-192. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2004.02.003.
  4. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2010). "Ready-made and self-made facilitation effects of arrays: Priming and conceptualization in children's visual memory". Swiss Journal of Psychology. 69: 189-200. doi:10.1024/1421-0185/a000023.
  5. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2005). "Word structure effects in German and British reading beginners". German Journal of Educational Psychology. 19: 207-218. doi:10.1024/1010-0652.19.4.207.
  6. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Krappmann, Lothar (2011). "Ein modalitätsspezifisches Wortgedächtnis ist ausreichend: Wortgedächtnismodalität bei Leseanfängern und neuronalen Netzen". German Journal of Educational Psychology. 25: 19-37.
  7. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (1998). "Pressure, velocity and time in speeded drawing of basic graphic patterns in young children". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 86: 1299-1310. doi:10.2466/pms.1998.86.3c.1299.
  8. ^ Tabatabaey, N.; Sudirman, R.; Inayat Khalid, P.; Lange-Küttner, C. (2015). "Automated syntax analysis of drawing two tangent patterns in children with low and average handwriting ability". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 120: 1-30. doi:10.2466/24.10.PMS.120v15x1.
  9. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2006). "Drawing boundaries: From individual to common region. The development of spatial region attribution in children". British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 24: 419-427. doi:10.1348/026151005X50753.
  10. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2009). "Habitual size and projective size: The logic of spatial systems in children's drawings". Developmental Psychology. 45: 913-927. doi:10.1037/a0016133.
  11. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (1997). "Development of size modification of human figure drawings in spatial axes systems of varying complexity". Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 66: 264-278. doi:10.1006/jecp.1997.2386.
  12. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2004). "More evidence on size modification in spatial axes system of varying complexity". . Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 88: 171-192. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2004.02.003.
  13. ^ Lange-Küttner, C. (2013). "Array effects, spatial concepts, or information processing speed: Which is the crucial variable for place learning?". Swiss Journal of Psychology. 72: 197-217. doi:10.1024/1421-0185/a000113.
  14. ^ Lange-Kuettner, C.; Kochhar, R. (2020). "Fine motor skills and unsystematic spatial binding in the Common Region Test: Under-inclusivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder and over-Inclusivity in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder". Journal of Motor Development and Learning. 8: 544-568. doi:10.1123/jmld.2019-0033.
  15. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Kochhar, R. (2021). "The culture-fair Common Region Test (CRT)". Academia Letters. Article 103: 1-7. doi:10.20935/AL103.
  16. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Bosco, G. (2016). "On being in the wrong place: The role of children's conceptual understanding and ballgame experience when judging a football player's offside position". International Journal of Developmental Science. 10: 73-84. doi:10.3233/DEV-160185.
  17. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Küttner, E.; Chromekova, M. (2014). "Deterioration and recovery of DAP IQ scores in the repeated assessment of the Naglieri Draw-A-Person Test in 6- to 12-year-old children". Psychological Assessment. 26: 297-306. doi:10.1037/a0034581.
  18. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Sykorova, E. (2015). "Mojibake: The rehearsal of word fragments in verbal recall. In Lehmann, M., Hasselhorn, M. & Jarrold, C. (Eds.) Research Topic: What is developed in the development of rehearsal?". Frontiers in Psychology. 6: Article 350. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00350.
  19. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Küttner, E. (2015). "How to learn places without spatial concepts: Does the What-and-Where Reaction Time System in children regulate learning during stimulus repetition?". Brain and Cognition. 97: 59-73. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2015.04.008.
  20. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Markowska, M.; Kochhar, R. "Deterioration and recovery in verbal recall: Repetition helps against pro-active interference" (PDF). Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling. 59: 405-441.
  21. ^ Lange-Küttner, C.; Averbeck, B. B.; Hirsch, S.; Wießner, I.; Lamba, N. (2012). "Sequence learning under uncertainty in children: self-reflection vs. self-assertion". Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. 3: Article 127. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00127.
  22. ^ Hentschel, M.; Lange-Küttner, C.; Averbeck, B. B. "Sequence learning with stochastic feedback in a cross-cultural sample of boys in the autistic spectrum" (PDF). Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities. 51: 179-194.