Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Drawing Projective Tests
What is projective testing ?
The theories
Two main uses:
    non projective
        Drawings as a measure of personality
       Drawings as a measure of self in relation to others
        Drawings as a measure of group values
        Drawings as measuring attitudes
What are the strengths and weaknesses of these tests?
In conclusion

note: for the students in psyc 331, there is an introduction for projective testing in pages 259, 440 and 505 in the text book (the Psychological Enterprise: An introduction)

Projective testing
    Projective testing is an unstructured, standardized form of personality testing.  Subjects are encouraged to respond freely, and give their own thoughts and feelings to ambiguous stimuli that may include inkblots, cloud pictures, cartoons, pictures, incomplete sentences, drawing tasks or play materials.  In response, the subject would organize  thoughts in terms of his or her motivations, perceptions, desires, and attitudes. This standardization of stimuli under specified conditions ensures that response results are due to personality differences.

       The most popular tests are the Rorschach inkblot,  thematic apperception, and human figure drawing tests. Drawings tests are fast and easy to administer to a group or single person, and non clinicians can administer it.  There are different forms of drawing tests:  the Draw a Man test (Machover, 1949), House Tree person (HTP) test (Buck, 1948) and Kinetic family Drawings (1970), to name a few.

Two theories

      There are two theories behind drawing tests, both based on the belief there is a relationship between the personality and artwork of the drawer. The initial theory hypothesizes that art provides insight into the psych of the patient. The drawing is considered a symptom, which leads to a diagnosis of the disorder as in the case for schizophrenia. Drawings capture on paper the patient's alienation from the real world, changes in perception of  self and others, time and space distortions, and cognitive disorganization.

    The second theory of art psychology stems from Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theory of projection: unconscious thoughts would be brought to the open by such symptoms as forgetfulness, false recollection, slips of the tongue, accidents, and dreams. Personality psychologists use these indicators in constructing projective tests. Designed to reveal the unconscious, projectives are based on how people interpret ambiguous situations.

Two main uses
     Drawing tests have two uses: as an indicator to developmental maturity or as a projective test to determine the personality. For a non projective purpose, drawings can access developmental and/or intellectual maturity. It is assumed the order of  development is constant: children of  higher ability produce better drawings, and an increase in age results in finer detail and more correct proportions. There are exemptions, one of them being Nadia, an autistic child who's talent seems to skip the developmental of art. Correlation between art development and IQ tests have reasonable correlation for children between ages 6-11.

     As a projective test, drawings capture on paper what a person feels and thinks. Drawing analysis is favorable because they are easy to obtain, most children like to draw, and young children have limited language that drawing doesn't interfere with. Art could be used as a measure of personality, self in relation to others, group values and attitudes by different methods.

Drawings as a measure of personality

    The Draw a Person test (DAP) by Karen Machover (1949) is one of the first to link art and personality. Materials include a 8.5 by 11.0  inch blank white paper and a pencil. The examinee is asked to "draw a person", to which there is no time limit. Then the child would be asked to draw another figure of the opposite sex and tell a story, or would be asked questions about the art. Score criterion is  found by compiling a list of possible indicators and comparing subject's scores with a normative sample. This test is said to obtain information about intelligence, neurological intactness, visual motor coordination, cognitive development, and learning disabilities. (Snell, 1999)  There are many versions of this test:

House Tree Person test (Buck, 1948)-  tree reveals more of the personality than the house or the tree.

Draw a Person in the Rain (Verinis, 1974)- the rain is symbolic of stress, and the shelter from the rain (e.g. umbrella, tree) signifies the way stress is handled.

Draw a car (Loney, 1971)- The car is symbolic of the digestive tract, use of fuel, etc.... aids in the study of enuresis and encopresis of children

Inside of the Body test (Tait, 1955)- useful for finding psychosomatic problems

Draw a Person: Screening Procedure for Emotional disturbance (Naglieri, 1991)

    Characteristics of the art such as the size of the drawing, placement on page etc. contribute to the analysis. Assuming  the person drawn is the child himself, meanings are attached to different body parts. Comments by the child as the picture is drawn can provide insight into the the emotional and mental state. For the tests that include crayons,  color is also a strong indicator of personality.

Here are some examples of the Draw a Person test.

Drawings as a measure of self in relation to others

    When measuring a child in relation to others, two methods have evolved: kinetic and akenitic tests. The Draw a Family test by Hulse (1951) is an akenitic test where attention is paid to the drawing as a whole: the order in which the members are lined up, omissions, and exaggerations of a member or body parts. It is assumed  these drawings give insight to a child's perception of the family. Answers to questions such as "are the members of the group doing the same or different things? Is there interaction?" can tell if the group is cohesive, happy, constructive or not.

    The variations to this test include the family kinetic drawing test (Burns and Kaufman, 1970) where a child is asked to illustrate a family doing something. Analysis is focused on action, what the members are doing have significance Useful for child abuse cases, art as revealed by a child can show the parent how a child feels. In a reversal of roles, parents are sometimes asked to draw to indicate child abuse. This test is based on the authors clinical experience, further studies are suggested.

    Kinetic school drawings, a variation of family drawings assess how children feel about the classroom situation and relationships between the teacher and classmates. In akenitic school drawings, kids are asked to draw a classroom, and the content: people, classmates, teacher(s) etc. is analyzed. Interviews about the art enhance the interpretation. Correlation studies yield promising results.

    Other tests that measure self in relation to others:
Draw a group (Hare and Hare, 1956) The subject is asked to  "Draw a group of people you like to play with doing something you like best." There is a significant but low correlation- more studies needed.

Kinetic school drawing (Prout and Phillips, 1974) "Draw yourself, teacher and friend doing something".

Akinetic school drawing (Kutnick, 1978) "Draw a classroom" - The greater the grade the more authority is given to the teacher.

Here are some examples of family drawings.

Drawings as a measure of group values

    Drawings that measure group values is based on the theory that children draw people they admire and therefore would reveal the child's group values. Analysis is focused on the content of the drawing: facial expression, religious or traditional content, job relatedness..... hair style, etc.. are important. The type of people drawn, their occupation, is the center of interest. Details such as erasures, size, etc. are ignored.  This is used to measure cultural values, for example,  nuns draw more crosses, and angels. (Golomb, 1992)
    Tests can be analyzed for the measure of hostility, or a measure of cooperation (a child is asked to draw a man and another person doing something). As a measure of  racial identity.  Art by black and white children indicated more drawings of white people in both groups. The blacks avoided giving indication of race which concludes that blacks are less accepting of their race than whites are. (Wichofield, 1978) There is a differential in use of color. by different races.

Here are some examples of art by Canadian Cree Indians.

Drawings as measuring attitudes:

    The draw a teacher test (Welch et al, 1971)  is one of many that measure attitudes of the child towards people. There are other tests that involve the child drawing different professions such as draw a doctor, nurse or dentist. All use 8.5 x 11.0 inch white paper and pencil.

Here are some examples of drawings:

What are the weaknesses of these tests?

      Drawing tests are subjective, unreliable, are vulnerable to biases and information gathering difficulties and have low utility.

    A drawing made today may be different from one created tomorrow, it is indicative of the day of testing, making the test unreliable. To solve this problem, tests can be administered periodically to weed out infrequent details, and assessed on trends present in the art. (Golomb, 1995)

    Biases by test creators include ignorance of individual variation in drawing style and competence that characterizes all age groups. Sometimes in group variance can be more than between group variance. (Golomb, 1992) Overall impression is more indicative than any one indicator, but often test makers attach strict meanings to form. Test markers favor expected outcomes and dismiss unexpected results whether on purpose or unconsciously so that interpretations are accurate (called impossibility of disconfirmation)  (Impara, 1995).  Another problem is the wrong assumption that an expert's interpretations are more accurate and valid than those made by unqualified people, there is little difference in the credibility of the administrator (called illusionary correlation) (Impara, 1995).

    Problems inherent with the notion of drawing tests include unfair representation of  norm groups: gender, age and socioeconomic status of the normal and clinical sample may not  match up. When working with children in the clinical group, health records may not be viewed.

     Utility of the test is questioned, it is only for screening purposes and significant results need additional information for  further evaluation. This test is useful when assessing a group of people with unknown mental states than to a group of people already diagnosed with disorders. In the latter case, this test would not provide anymore significant information, resulting in low incremental validity. Drawing tests are good for broad screening purposes.

In conclusion
   Despite the weaknesses, drawing tests are used because patients may not be able to express themselves in other means such as talking. Revelation of the unconsciousness by projective tests  make them invaluable for clinical use.  When used correctly and in conjunction with other tests, these  are a useful tool to the psychological testing enterprise.

 meanings of color and form
examples of children's drawings
other links
sign/read the guest book