I was reading various articles about toys the other day, when one particularly caught my attention. It was a commentary of a study by a team of New-Zealanders which caught the attention of the media and stirred some discussion, going as far as suggesting that LEGOs should be avoided.
Oh, come on!
Before saying that they spent money on nothing, you should know that one of the researchers works at an industrial research institute, so the money were in fact focused.
What did the study reveal/look for?
The said researchers started analyzing the evolution in time of the LEGO figurines facial expressions. Adding thing up, they realized that as the number of characters kept climbing, so did the variety and the complexity of their facial expressions.
All well and beautiful so far. Perfectly normal, considering that these days, LEGO is one of the world’s leading brands in the toys industry.
That was enough for the hawks to start writing articles saying LEGOs are dangerous and should be avoided.
If you would have read only those articles, you’d be tempted to believe them, right? They based on a real scientific study, right?
The article mentioned previously tried to clarify the situation, and included a number of comments from the authors.
The thing is that the study never intended to analyze the effect on children. In fact, children’s weren’t included in the study. 264 adults were asked to analyze the facial expressions on figurines released by LEGO between 1975 and 2010. Authors noted that the subjects were perceiving expressions better when heads were attached on the bodies, giving a context. They were faster to interpret them as anger, as opposed to disgust, sadness or surprise.
On the other hand, their effect on children is unknown, but I really wouldn’t see why there should be any. They are normal, human expressions. And toys are fun, even if the expression is more grouchy. I find it exaggerated to avoid these toys, as some suggest. It’s perfectly normal to protect your child, but keeping him into a cocoon, ripping him from the knowledge he might gain, is a bit irresponsible.
Anyway, the whole thing was blown out. If they make so much noise because of LEGO toys, then videogames should be horror. (And they do have plenty studies that prove they have no bad influence). And speaking of video games, what are we to do with Angry Birds?? Those things are a menace and kids are mad about them.
As a conclusion, the article does suggest that the whole thing might actually be just a cost cutting measure, given that it’s cheaper to paint facial expressions than painting the whole torso.