When it comes to criticizing the violent ways our kids play, Legos don't usually get a lot of flack. But according to a recent study led by Christopher Bartneck of New Zealand's University of Canterbury Human Interface Technology Laboratory, Legos are becoming more conflict-oriented, and the human figures featured in Lego sets are getting angrier.
"Our cluster analysis shows that toy design has become a more complex design space in which the imaginary world of play does not only consist of a simple division of good versus evil," the researchers write, "but a world in which heroes are scared and villains can have superior smile [sic]."
Through the Amazon Mechanical Turk marketplace, 264 study subjects in the U.S. viewed photographs of 628 different heads that appeared on the 3655 Lego Minifigures released between 1975 and 2010, and evaluated how intense their facial expressions were on scales for anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, and surprise. (They were paid one cent for every evaluation.) The face was then categorized by the expression people rated it as most often.
Starting in 1989, Lego began introducing more variety into their figures' facial expressions. While overall, the Minifigures' expressions featured happiness most often, the characters are increasingly moving toward angrier expressions, and the authors write "it is our impression that the themes have been increasingly based on conﬂict."
People were more likely to categorize a face as angry if there was a body attached to it, rather than just an image of a floating Lego head, but overall the study found the presence of bodies did not make the facial expressions significantly more distinct, nor did the skin color of the figure.
The paper estimates that on average, there are 75 Lego bricks for every person on Earth. "We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play," the researchers write. "The children that grow up with LEGO today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Miniﬁgures' faces."
Check out the whole PDF paper for the intense scientific discussion of Lego theory you've always wanted.
Perhaps we need a Dr. Phil Lego man to help with the angry Lego\emotional upset people?!
Anyone bothered by "angry" Lego figures is an idiot.
Now that may seem like a harsh statement.
I don't mean for it to be. I know that there are plenty of idiots who are not bothered in the slightest by Lego figures, so it may be painting with too broad a brush to refer the authors of the study (and anyone who agrees with them) as idiots. But until the English language produces a new word to specifically identify these twits, that's what I'm going to refer to them as: idiots.
As far as themes based on conflict - everywhere is conflict. LIFE is conflict. For instance, look at the conflict that exists with this article: It is conflict between normal, sane people and the nut-jobs who do studies on Lego facial expressions. That's conflict.
Children use toys to construct and play out stories. That's normal. In all stories of the slightest interest, there is conflict. That's what the word drama means - it means conflict. You know - characters encountered problems and overcoming them.
You know a REAL problem today? Wimps. Sissies. Linguini-spined, milquetoast ninnies who don't stand for anything, can't make anything, can't fix anything, and can't be relied upon for squat. THAT is a problem.
I would like to suggest a new Lego figure: Idiot-Person. Very politically-correct in its gender-neutrality, Idiot-Person also has an "angry-face" because Idiot-Person is always bothered by people living their lives as they see fit, rather than the the way Idiot-Person wants to direct them to live. Idiot-Person is angry because the other Lego figures drink large soft drinks and eat tasty foods with salt and high trans-fats. Idiot-Person is a fan of seatbelt laws, gun control, censorship, and junkfood taxes. Idiot-Person is the founder and president of the Mayor Bloomberg fan club. And you know something else? Idiot-Person is off their meds.
They're frickin' Legos. Get help.
Well said captain!
There are many threats to our children far greater then angry lego people. These threats include people who study faces on lego people and sissies that have a panic attack every time a child points a finger at another child and says "Bang". Children need a certain amount of mock violence in order to not grow up to be linguini-spined, milquetoast ninnies.
We're worried about Legos when there are little monsters biting their Pop Tarts into the shape of guns and threatening the lives and emotional health of their classmates? Let's concentrate on the things that matter.
Anger and fear can both be appropriate responses to things. Why not teach kids how to display and process them, rather than freak out about their toy?
Just buy your kids a 3D Makerbot printer and teach them to make their own lego dudes in whatever fashion their individual creativity desires.
Or better yet, instead of buying overpriced boxed kits of plastic lego bricks, just get Minecraft for your children and they can (almost) infinitely build objects or structures as high as the sky. What is awesome about this is you can also teach your kids how to convert their Minecraft creations into real life objects they can physically play with using a 3D printer.
Anger is one of many natural emotions and is ok to feel. We all need to learn how to express it, so not to include violence. Much of this type of learning is at a child’s age. I see the above angry Lego natural and just fine for child development and maturity.
Right, all emotions are natural emotions. There is no such thing as negative emotions.