Testing has become an integral part of psychological theory and practice. Rooted in historical perspectives and heated conversation of principles, wagering purpose and ethics, it involves the statistical conceptualizations of psychometrics and the connection of the validity of a test to the reality of a person. The field of psychological testing is characterized by the use of small samples to apply larger generalizations to a specific individual; samples of behavioral trends combine with observations over a limited time in which performance of prescribed tasks is compared to a the pre-studied responses of members of a norm group. These responses, compiled and analyzed before compared to the studied individual, are often crafted into statistical tables that allow the evaluator to compare the behavior of the specific person to the range of responses given by the norm group and make appropriate personality discussions therein. A common type of psychological testing both valid and reliable is the figure drawing test, in which an individual's personality and its characteristics are examined by his or her ability to draw a human figure.
The human figure drawing test is an example of clinical interpretation and assessment of cognitive impairment and characteristics. It is the eighth most commonly used psychological test, according to the Journal of Personality Assessment.
In its most general form, it is intended for individuals with a minimum of fifteen years of age; while different ages have varied corresponding analysis, children of fifteen are more readily associated with the elder peers in cognition than their younger counterparts. Each drawing takes between five and ten minutes to complete.
To accurately administer the test, the examiner needs a stopwatch to accurately time the examinee's response, a pen or pencil for recording the responses in form, a black pen or marker for use in the regimented response booklets, and a set of at least five colored markers for the examinee to use during the administration of the test.
Examiners compare the figures drawn by those examined to a steady mark of what the norm group, with average intelligence and no serious behavioral disorder, is known to exhibit. The examination of the drawings consists of physical relations; each ordinate of the drawing is an important construction of the personality analysis. In a wide test in Georgia, seriously emotionally disturbed or seriously behaviorally disturbed individuals were waged against the norm group for examination.
The heights of the human drawings and the abscissa of human figure drawings (distance from the left side of the page) compared with the Bender-Gestalt test, known disorders, and the norm group to accurately indicate the personality disorders of those examined.
The test triggers construction, memory, recall, and visual-motor organization skills. The projective technique assesses both personality and levels of intelligence when gauged for appropriate analysis, making the human figure drawing test an interesting and multi-faceted tool for psychological analysis. Because the examinee is required to draw a person of either sex then draw another of the other sex, the figures project the examinee's feelings and perception of body images. This is a useful mechanism for emotional registry in adults, as well as a means of understanding cognitive development in younger children.
The human figure drawing test is particularly important in the analysis of developing personalities and is as a result most commonly used with young children. "Human figure drawings are related with cognitive development in children. As cognitive skills progress, drawing abilities also improve in details and sex differentiation."
In children, the growing personality is directly correlated with the child's exhibition of intelligence; using the drawing test to score human figure drawing with separate norms for males and females provides for an accurate analysis of children in both their personality and proclivity for intelligence.
In a case study examining the validity and reliability of the exam in children, the human figure drawing test was administered to 528 children who had attended the Child and Adolescent Unit at Child Health in Bangkok, Thailand. The study, longitudinal in its processing, lasted from January 1999 to December 2001; the results were retrospectively reviewed. The study included performing the human figure drawing tests on the same day as standardized intelligence tests, and examining the results, mental health histories were also taken into consideration. In both males and females, across the age scale (median age of 7 9/12 years), the proved widely accurate when compared to the results exhibited by health histories and other accepted forms of standard personality and intelligence testing.
The results revealed a pervasive development disorder of 17%, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of 13%, and severe mental disorders at 11.3%; these numbers were parallel to those known of the subjects form the other standards of testing. Additionally, the overall correlation of full scale intellectual quotient (FSIQ) from the standardized intelligence tests and standard scores on the Goodenough-Harris system was 0.813; overall validity in classifed correct intellectual level was 60.8% in children with an intellectual quotient of less than 70; the figure was nearly ten points higher in children with average intellectual quotient scores. The test was most accurately reflected in the youngest age group, where children were under six years.
The Thai study revealed the reliability of the exam on younger children. Ultimately, it concluded that the human figure drawing test can be used as an additional measure of assessing personality in young children but should not substitute other exams. The same was true for its analysis of an individual's intelligence; while the test revealed largely accurate reflections of presumed personality traits garnered from other exams and forms of analysis, it should not be substituted for traditional forms of examination. The researchers suggested that because the test is not complicated, it can be used with a combination of other screening tests to examine cognitive development and characteristics in children, but because it requires accurate training to really gauge the results, should not be substituted for other interpretations.
Groups in the United States further examined the role of the figure-drawing test in children as an example of stress and emotional-related personality reflections. Using the test as administered to children aged 4 to 12 years hospitalized for elective surgery, a pre-surgery administration and post-surgery exam revealed the differences in children's ability to complete the same personality task in a stressful situation (before the surgery) and in a "no stress" situation. Examiners found that the test proved a reliable way for recognizing emotional indicators in children suffering from stress and might provide a mechanism for understanding the effects of stress on a child and working through the child's understanding of his or her own stress.
Studies on the Human Figure Drawing test in the elderly revealed a similar result. While the researchers at the Stockholm Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Family Medicine found that it was an acceptable form of a community-based study to examine dementia in the elderly, it did not prove more reliable than other forms of intervention and examination. While its results were largely accurate when compared to known and presumed facts about those studied, the tests were easier to administer than to interpret, and should only be used in combination with other tests, not merely used on their own.
The Human Figure Drawing test was developed as a tool of analytic psychoanalysis, and with use it has been honed to a multi-faceted tool that enables administrators to not only garner information about personality characteristics, disorders, and traits, but also as a tool for gauging cognitive development and degeneration. The test is most valued for its easy administration, reliability, and validity. However, its results demand trained analysis that is more accurately reflected by other tests and personal examinations. It remains a useful tool for analysis, but should be used more in conjunction with other forms of analysis than as its own form of discriminate…