Human figure drawing test: validity in assessing intelligence in children aged 3-10 years

Plubrukarn, R.; Theeramanoparp, S.

Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand 86(Suppl 3): S610-S617


ISSN/ISBN: 0125-2208
PMID: 14700157
Document Number: 9110
Human-figure-drawing abilities are related with cognitive development in children. As cognitive skills progress, drawing abilities also improve in details and sex differentiation. The Goodenough-Harris (G-H) drawing test was developed to score human figure drawing with separate norms for males and females. To evaluate whether the Goodenough-Harris human drawing test is valid to classify intelligence in children aged 3-10 years. Record files of 528 children aged between 3-10 years who had attended the Child and Adolescent Unit at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health (Children's Hospital), Bangkok, Thailand from January 1999 to December 2001 were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria included: 1) performing the human figure drawing test and standard intelligence tests on the same day and 2) diagnoses were addressed. The ages of the children ranged from 3 10/12 years to 10 11/12 years with a mean age of 7 9/12 years, 49.5 per cent were males and 50.5 per cent were female. The study group was diagnosed as pervasive development disorder 17 per cent, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 13 per cent, and mental retardation 11.3 per cent. Overall correlation of full scale intellectual quotient (FSIQ) from the standard intelligence test and standard scores on the Goodenough-Harris system was 0.813 (p < 0.01). The overall validity of the human figure drawing test in classified correct intellectual level was 60.8 per cent but in children with an intellectual quotient (IQ) less than 70, the correct classification was 69.2 per cent. After stratification by age, it was found that the human figure drawing test had validity in predicting IQ below 70 in 88.7 per cent and 68.8 per cent of children aged < 6 years and aged > 6 years respectively. The human figure drawing test can be used as an additional measure of assessing intelligence in young children but it should not be substituted for standard tests. The test is not complicated, therefore, trained personnel can use it in combination with other screening tests for cognitive development in children.

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