Draw-A-Person Test

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The Draw-A-Person Test (DAP, DAP test, or Goodenough-Harris Draw-A-Person Test) is a psychological projective personality or cognitive test used to evaluate children and adolescents for a variety of purposes.


Developed originally by Florence Goodenough in 1926, this test was first known as the Goodenough Draw-A-Man test. It is detailed in her book titled Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings. Dr. Dale B. Harris later revised and extended the test and it is now known as the Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test. The revision and extension is detailed in his book Children's Drawings as Measures of Intellectual Maturity (1963). Psychologist Julian Jaynes, in the 1976 book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind wrote that the test is "routinely administered as an indicator of schizophrenia," and that while not all schizophrenic patients have trouble drawing a person, when they do, it is very clear evidence of a disorder. And that such signs might be a patient's neglect to include "obvious anatomical parts like hands and eyes," with "blurred and unconnected lines," ambiguous sexuality and general distortion. [1]

Nature of the test

Test administration involves the administrator requesting children to complete three individual drawings on separate pieces of paper. Children are asked to draw a man, a woman, and themselves. No further instructions are given and the child is free to make the drawing in whichever way he/she would like. There is no right or wrong type of drawing, although the child must make a drawing of a whole person each time - i.e. head to feet, not just the face. The test has no time limit, however, children rarely take longer than about 10 or 15 minutes to complete all three drawings. Harris's book (1963) provides scoring scales which are used to examine and score the child's drawings. The test is completely non-invasive and non-threatening to children - which is part of its appeal.

The purpose of the test is to assist professionals in inferring children's cognitive developmental levels with little or no influence of other factors such as language barriers or special needs. Any other uses of the test are merely projective and are not endorsed by the first creator.

Notes and References

  1. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (2006)

Goodenough, F. (1926). Measurement of intelligence by drawings. New York: World Book Co. Harris, D. B. (1963). Children's drawings as measures of intellectual maturity. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

  • Ter Laack, J.; de Goede, M.; Aleva, A. (2005). "The Draw-A-Person Test: An Indicator of Children's Cognitive and Socioemotional Adaptation?". Heldref Publications.
  • Williams, Simon D.; Wiener, Judy; MacMillan, Harriet (2005). "Build-A-Person Technique: An examination of the validity of human-figure features as evidence of child sexual abuse.". Elsevier Science. Template:Psych-stub