figure drawing methods

Drawing Test
Nature & History of FD
• Figure drawing methods are performance-based
measures in which persons being examined draw
pictures of people or objects.
• The use of figure drawings in personality
assessment is based on the assumption that how
people approach this task and the way they draw
the figures reflect some of their basic dispositions
and concerns and their attitudes toward
themselves and other people.
• This assumption derives from the widely
acknowledged extent to which the works of
creative artists tend to mirror their moods and
personal preoccupations.
Frequently used assessment
4th after MMPI, RIM, TAT
(Camara, Nathan, & Puente, 2000; Hogan, 2005)
Effectiveness with young people
(Archer & Newsom, 2000; Cashel, 2002)
Effectiveness in school settings
Most frequently used
Most frequently used
Most frequently used
(Hogan, 2005)
• The structural data in figure drawings consist of
objective features of what people draw.
• The core structural features of drawings include
their line quality (heavy or light, continuous or
broken), the size of the figures (large or small), the
placement of figures on the page (middle, top,
bottom, side), and any emphasis on or omission of
basic parts (e.g., person with disproportionately
small head or big ears, person with no hands or
feet, house with a tiny door, tree with no branches,
family with no father).
• Thematic imagery emerges in figure drawing
assessment when people are asked to talk
about what they have drawn.
• The behavioral data in figure drawing tests
consist of how people approach their task and
how they interact with the examiner.
• Behavior and commentary during test are
likely to mirror aspects of individuals’ problemsolving style and their test-taking and
interpersonal attitudes.
• Historically, no one knows when it was first
suggested that what people choose to draw
and how they draw it might shed light on
features of their personality
• The formal application of figure drawings in
psychological assessment began with
Florence Goodenough under the mentorship
of Lewis Terman (publishing the StanfordBinet Intelligence Scale, 1916)
• Goodenough became interested in
supplementing the Stanford-Binet
with a nonverbal measure of
intellectual maturity in young
• She concluded that the amount of
accurate detail they include in their
drawing of a human figure can
provide such a measure
• Goodenough’s pursuit of this belief
led her to develop the Draw-A-Man
test, which was published in 1926
Harris (1963) later revised
the Draw-A-Man by
expanding Goodenough’s
scoring system and
enlarging the
standardization sample for
the test, and he suggested
that children should be
asked to draw not only a
man, but also a woman and
a picture of themselves.
• Shortly after the Draw-A-Man test came into use,
psychologists began considering the possibility
that children’s figure drawings could reveal
differences among them in their personality
characteristics as well as their intellectual maturity.
• It was not until 1949, however, that Karen
Machover, then a senior psychologist at Kings
County Psychiatric Hospital in New York,
published the first formal method for assessing
personality with a figure drawing task that she
called the Draw-A-Person test
• Machover recommended using the DAP with
persons of all ages, not just children, and
obtaining drawings of both male and female
• (Machover, 1951), she elaborated the notion
that structural features of the human figures
people draw are likely to reflect their
underlying attitudes and concerns and many of
their personality traits.
• Exp: the drawing of small figures might
indicate low self-esteem or timidity, whereas
the drawing of large figures could be a sign of
self-confidence or grandiosity.
• The placement of figures high on the page
might reflect high levels of aspiration and
achievement striving, she hypothesized,
whereas placement low on the page could
identify insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.
• Machover also formulated numerous
hypotheses concerning the specific meaning
of various features of how the head, eyes,
nose, ears, hair, mouth, neck, and other body
parts are drawn and of how the figures are
• Also include an inquiry procedure in which
examinees are asked “to make up a story
about this person as if he were a character in
a play or novel” (Machover, 1951, p. 345).
• The questions concern such matters as the
age, education, occupation, and ambitions of
the figures; how the figures feel about
themselves, their family, and their friends; and
what attitudes the figures have toward school,
sex, and marriage.
Projective uses (Klepsch & Logie, 1982)
• As a measure of personality: derive information
about the uniqueness of the drawer & he sees
• As a measure of self in relation to others: when
children drew themselves in particular group, their
project their view of themselves in relation to the
others in the group
• As a measure of group values: exp different
cultural and racial groups in drawing
• As a measure of attitude: having children draw
specific people, reveal their feeling about these
particular (professional) people, exp doctor,
nurses, teachers
Nonprojective uses
• Can be used to measure a child’s
developmental or intellectual maturity
• In the child study (1900-1915), 2 important
findings : the order of development in the
drawings of children is constant; and children
of lower ability generally make inferior
• Using Goodenough-Harris DAM test, various
researchers have found that as children
increase in age, so does the details in their
Scoring system for estimating IQ:
Buck (1948)
Koppitz (1968)
Dunleavy, Hanson, & Szasz (1981) found
Koppitz’s scoring system useful for identifying
kindergarten children who were not ready for
• Harris views the HFD as a measure of intellectual
or conceptual maturity; ability to perceive/
discriminate similarities & differences, to abstract/
classify objects according to similarities &
differences, & generalize/ assign a discriminates
object to a correct class