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Doodling is scribbling figures, designs, and abstract art while one is preoccupied or perhaps just being "absent-minded". The habit of doodling is prevalent among both the young and old and done on a number of occasions such as while doing homework, talking on the telephone, at a meeting, trying to figure out something totally unrelated to the "doodling", or because they may be bored. Doodling can be done on any surface and with any medium such as pencils, charcoal, crayons, and ink.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Doodling is not just fun or a bad habit. It appears to allow a person's subconscious to work and the brain to concentrate, or can be an expression of another underlying symptom such as anxiety or stress. Doodling lets your subconscious drive your imagination and often doodles turn out so beautiful that it has been designated as one type of art form.
  • Researchers in the field of behavioral art therapy, maintain that the shapes and symbols we draw can reveal much about our state of mind.

All about doodling

Much of our creative expression is birthed in the subconscious mind. Doodling is one of the ways of delving into the subconscious to bring out creative expressions and solutions in our everyday life. Doodling is generally seen as something everyone can do and therefore not really "art". The internet and scrapbooking have caused doodling to come into its own as a legitimate art form.

Doodling psychology

  • Some theories describe doodling as a foolish or wasteful act.
  • Other circles of psychology hold that while a definite reason for the act is not that clear, there are some commonalities and hypotheses about the act of doodling.

Doodling usually happens when people are stuck in a place where they do not want to be. You are likely to doodle if you are in a boring meeting and you prefer to be someplace else. By doodling we can displace our thoughts to something more pleasurable.

Other theories

  • Doodling can also happen when you are in a restrictive atmosphere, like in a class lecture where you are not allowed to freely express yourself. Then doodling becomes a way of compensating for that restriction.
  • Some theories, including those of Freud and Jung, hold that doodling is an act where the individual is conscious, but the meaning of the drawings is unconscious.
  • Alfred Adler suggested that we tend to seek symmetry and doodles meet that need.
  • Other psychologists suggest that doodles are a manifestation of an unconscious or emotional state.


  • In January 2005, doodles found on the desk of British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Number 10 Downing Street were discussed by psychologists and handwriting experts as to their meaning. According to the BBC of 30 January 2005, newspaper stories contained phrases such as "struggling to concentrate" and "not a natural leader". It then emerged that a mistake had been made. The doodles were in fact drawn by a visitor to Number 10 - Bill Gates. [1]
  • The doodles and notes of US president John F Kennedy are released periodically by the John F Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. In one of the doodles he wrote "9/11" repeatedly and the word "conspiracy" next to it. [2]
  • President Eisenhower sketched a picture of himself looking larger than life, bare-chested, and with a head full of hair. [2]

90 degrees

According to new research, doodling on a piece of paper while someone is talking actually helps one to remember the details of what one is told. Boring tasks like a dull telephone conversation may make someone inattentive and distract them from the task

But a simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task.

The study suggests that in everyday life doodling may be something we do because it helps to keep us on track with a boring task, rather than being an unnecessary distraction that we should try to resist doing. [3]


  • The Art of Doodling
  • Why We Doodle


  2. 2.0 2.1 ABC NEWS
  3. The Indian Express