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Draw-a-Person Test

A test used to measure nonverbal intelligence or to screen for emotional or behavior disorders.

Based on children's drawings of human figures, this test can be used with two different scoring systems for different purposes. One measures nonverbal intelligence while the other screens for emotional or behavioral disorders. During the testing session, which can be completed in 15 minutes, the child is asked to draw three figures—a man, a woman, and him- or herself. To evaluate intelligence, the test administrator uses the Draw-a-Person: QSS (Quantitative Scoring System). This system analyzes fourteen different aspects of the drawings, such as specific body parts and clothing, for various criteria, including presence or absence, detail, and proportion. In all, there are 64 scoring items for each drawing. A separate standard score is recorded for each drawing, and a total score for all three. The use of a nonverbal, nonthreatening task to evaluate intelligence is intended to eliminate possible sources of bias by reducing variables like primary language, verbal skills, communication disabilities, and sensitivity to working under pressure. However, test results can be influenced by previous drawing experience, a factor that may account for the tendency of middle-class children to score higher on this test than lower-class children, who often have fewer opportunities to draw. To assess the test-taker for emotional problems, the administrator uses the Draw-a-Person: SPED (Screening Procedure for Emotional Disturbance) to score the drawings. This system is composed of two types of criteria. For the first type, eight dimensions of each drawing are evaluated against norms for the child's age group. For the second type, 47 different items are considered for each drawing.

See also Intelligence

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Tests & Methods