Drawing assessment and artistic skill

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<ul><li><p>The Arts in Psychotherapy, Vol. 18, pp. 347-352. Q Pergamon Press plc, 1991. Printed in the U.S.A. 0197-4556191 $3.00 + .OO </p><p>DRAWING ASSESSMENT AND ARTISTIC SKILL* </p><p>FRANCES FISHER KAPLAN, DA, ATRt </p><p>The impact of art training on drawing assessment techniques has received scant consideration by art therapists. Some justification for this neglect can be made by pointing out that many of the expressive features of drawings- such as color use, quality of line, symbolic imagery, placement-are compara- tively independent of drawing skill. The formal ele- ments of a drawing, however, are also subject to interpretation. For example, the degree of differen- tiation or sophistication of a drawing is viewed as a reflection of psychological maturity in a number of rating schemes (Witkin, Dyk, Faterson, Goodenough, &amp; Karp, 1962). It is in this last instance, logic tells us, that skill is most likely to influence interpretive results. </p><p>A review of the literature of drawing assessment reveals how others have dealt with-or failed to deal with-this concern. Among the psychologists who have developed and promoted projective drawing techniques, Machover (1949) has emphasized that lack of skill is no handicap whereas Hammer (1958) has provided assurances that art training does not mask the expression of valuable personal material. Harris (1963), on the other hand, has looked more closely at possible effects. He reports an experiment by Goodenough (1926) indicating that training in drawing the human figure can influence her Draw- A-Person (DAP) Test score. Nevertheless, he ap- pears to have accepted Goodenoughs dismissive statement that such training is not commonly given in school. Taking an opposing view, some psychol- ogists have conducted studies that have led them to </p><p>cite artistic skill as a serious threat to the validity of drawing tests. Whitmyre (1953), for example, has concluded that ratings of personal adjustment based on figure drawings really measure artistic ability. In addition, Sherman (1958) and Cressen (1975) have made similar judgments concerning other ratings us- ing the DAP. </p><p>Turning to the writings of art therapists does lit- tle to resolve these conflicting claims. Whether ex- plicating the art assessment process (Oster &amp; Gould, 1987) or presenting research related to a particular procedure (Cohen, Hammer, &amp; Singer, 1988), these otherwise thoughtful accounts tend to sidestep this particular problem. </p><p>Although the need to control for artistic ability has been emphasized by a few (Handler, 1984; Sims, Dana, &amp; Bolton, 1983), the overall impres- sion conveyed by the literature is that drawing skill has an all or nothing effect on drawing analysis. The possibility that skill has a definite but limited influence is not sufficiently entertained. The purpose of this paper is to further investigate the effects of this variable. More specifically, it is to present a study that evaluates the impact of drawing training on the type of drawing rating likely to be sensitive to its influence: a rating of drawing differentia- tion designed to reflect level of psychological development. </p><p>The Study </p><p>The purpose of this study was to lay the ground- work for a nonverbal measure of ego development. </p><p>*This paper is based on a research project undertaken in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Arts in the School of Education, Health, Nursing, and Arts Professions of New York University. TFrances Kaplan, Book Review Editor for The Arts in Psychotherapy, is Coordinator of the Creative Arts Therapy Program at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. </p><p>347 </p></li><li><p>348 PRANCES FISHER KAPLAN </p><p>As mentioned above, others had constructed rating schemes based on formal drawing elements. These schemes were intended to measure certain develop- mental variables such as sexual differentiation (Swen- son, 1955; Swenson &amp; Newton, 1955), intellectual maturity (Harris, 1963), and differentiation of body concept (Witkin et al., 1962). A similar approach might provide the key to assessing overall psycho- logical development. I was not particularly con- cerned about the effects of drawing skill but included an art training questionnaire in my procedure-just in case. I was indeed surprised when the impact of training turned out to be my most compelling result. Although I did obtain some modest correlations be- tween my rating scheme and a verbal measure of ego development (see below), the apparent strong interaction with previous art training indicated to me that some means to control for drawing skill would be needed to make this a fully valid scale. </p><p>Table 1. Demographic and diagnostic variables for sample groups </p><p>Method </p><p>Research Participants </p><p>The sample consisted of 59 adult male and fe- male psychiatric patients and 37 adult male and fe- male nonpatients. The patient portion of the sample was drawn from the population of a short-term pri- vate psychiatric hospital. Only patients from un- locked units were involved. (Patients on locked units were not included as it was important for partici- pants to be sufficiently oriented to follow the neces- sary directions and to give their informed consent.) The nonpatient portion consisted of two subgroups: 20 residents of a nonpsychiatric alcohol rehabilita- tion program attached to the hospital (designated re- hab residents) and 17 employees of an industrial research institution (designated AB employees). At the time of the study, average length of stay for pa- tients and rehab residents was about 4 weeks. The participants as a whole were predominantly white, middle-class suburbanites. The age range was 15- 76, with a mean age of 38.7. Demographic and di- agnostic variables for the sample groups are summarized in Table 1. </p><p>Nonpatients </p><p>Rehab AR Patients residents Employees </p><p>Variable (?I = 59) (n = 20) (It= 17) </p><p>Age Range 15-76 26-63 21-60 Mean 37.3 46.5 34.7 </p><p>Sex Females 25 (42%) 6 (30%) 9 (53%) Males 34 (58%) 14 (70%) 8 (47%) </p><p>Education High school or 28 (47%) 12 (60%) 3 (18%) </p><p>less College or more 30 (51%) 8 (40%) 12 (71%) Unknown 1 - 2 </p><p>Diagnosis Alcohol 24 (41%) 20 (100%) - </p><p>dependence Drug abuse/ 5 (8%) - - </p><p>dependence Mood disorders 18 (31%) - - </p><p>Psychotic disorders 5 (8%) - - </p><p>Other 7 (12%) - - </p><p>pletion Test of Ego Development (WUSCTED). De- veloped by Loevinger and co-workers (Loevinger &amp; Wessler, 1970; Loevinger,Wessler, &amp; Redmore, 1970), this measure is informed by theory that de- fines ego development as passage through a hierar- chy of invariant stages-resulting in changes in im- pulse control, moral style, interpersonal relations, conscious preoccupations, and cognitive complexity. Symbols and names for ego-development stages are as follows: I-l, autistic-symbiotic; I-2, impulsive; delta, self-protective; delta/3, ritualistic-traditional; I-3, conformist; I-3/4, self-aware; I-4, conscientious; I-4/5, individualistic; I-5, autonomous; I-6, inte- grated. These stages describe increasing levels of maturity with the I-6 stage representing an ideal state that few obtain. It is of note that the I-3/4 level has been found to be the modal level for adults (Holt, 1980). </p><p>Measures </p><p>The measure of psychological development em- ployed was the Washington University Sentence Com- </p><p>The first ego-level, I-l, is essentially preverbal and cannot be assessed by a written measure. The other nine levels can be scored by the WUSCTED. The WUSCTED consists of 36 sentence stems, scored by assigning an ego-level rating to each item re- </p><p>Robert R. Holt (undated) coined this name as Loevinger did not provide one for this stage. </p></li><li><p>DRAWING ASSESSMENT AND ARTISTIC SKILL 349 </p><p>sponse. A total protocol rating (TPR) is then derived from a distribution of these scores. The male and female versions of Form 11-68 of the WUSCTED were used. The resultant protocols were scored us- ing the published scoring instructions and item man- uals (Loevinger &amp; Wessler, 1970; Loevinger et al., 1970) and some unpublished item manuals (Holt, undated). The TPRs were obtained by using the au- tomatic scoring rules. For the purposes of this study, a final score was then obtained by dividing the TPRs into three categories. A category rating of 1 was as- signed for TPRs of I-3 and below; a rating of 2, for I-314; and a rating of 3 for I-4 and above. </p><p>Research has indicated that construct validity for the WUSCTED is good (Loevinger, 1979). Further, interscorer reliability has been shown to be high. The median interscorer correlation for TPRs has been reported as .86 (Loevinger &amp; Wessler, 1970). In this study, the TPR category ratings of the prin- cipal scorer (myself) produced an acceptable corre- lation of .90 when compared with those of another scorer. </p><p>The drawing measure consisted of the task for the Kinetic Family Drawing Technique (K-F-D) (Bums &amp; Kaufman, 1972) along with a drawing rating scheme designed for this study. The K-F-D task was used because it offers sufficient complexity to give indications of drawing differentiation and integra- tion. The interpretative manual for the K-F-D was not used because it provides a largely impressionis- tic approach. A more objective scheme, based on formal rather than symbolic drawing elements, was developed. It involves assigning a rating for degree of drawing sophistication for each of two pictorial elements--form and space. A total rating, the draw- ing category rating, is obtained by combining the separate form and space ratings. Proceeding from least to most sophisticated, category ratings of 1, 2, or 3 are possible. (The process by which the rating scheme was developed has been detailed elsewhere- Kaplan, 1985.) </p><p>The drawing rating scheme was applied to the research sample by two raters working indepen- dently. These raters were art therapists who had been given some practice in using the rating scheme and who had achieved an acceptable interscorer re- liability of .77 for drawing category scores. Final drawing scores were obtained by averaging the two raters scores. </p><p>The final measure was the art training question- </p><p>naire. Research participants responded to the follow- ing questions by checking either yes or no: </p><p>1. Did you draw or do other artwork in elemen- tary school? </p><p>2. Did you have art instruction in junior high school? </p><p>3. Did you have art instruction in high school? 4. Did you have art instruction in college? 5. Did you have art instruction in any other </p><p>settings? 6. Did you have instruction in mechanical </p><p>drawing? 7. Do you ever draw or do other artwork for </p><p>your own amusement, or have you done so in the past (since childhood)? </p><p>Participants were assigned 1 degree of art training if they checked yes for question one only or if all questions were checked no; 2 degrees of art training if they checked yes for question one plus one other question; 3 degrees of art training for checking yes for the first question and two or more of the others. </p><p>Procedure </p><p>Patients and rehab residents were administered the three measures within regularly scheduled as- sessment groups for new admissions. The AB em- ployees completed the measures within one of two testing sessions. The WUSCTED and the K-F-D were given in counterbalanced order. The art train- ing questionnaire was always presented last. The in- structions for the drawing were to draw a family doing something. White drawing paper, pencils, and crayons and fine-line markers in assorted colors were provided for this purpose. The instructions for the WUSCTED were to complete these sentences. Pens and the appropriate female or male versions of the test were distributed. All testing sessions were approximately one hour in length. When data col- lection was complete, the WUSCTED protocols and the drawings were scored independently without knowl- edge of the identity of the respondent. </p><p>Results </p><p>Product-moment correlations for ego-level and drawing sophistication scores resulted in weak sig- </p></li><li><p>PRANCES FISHER KAPLAN </p><p>Table 2. Relationship between ego-level and drawing Table 4. Frequency of TPR category ratings for art ratings: Summary of correlation values for sample groups training groups (N = 96) </p><p>Sample groups N Product-moment correlations </p><p>Patients &amp; nonpatients 96 </p><p>Art training: 1 degree 29 2 degrees 29 3 degrees 38 </p><p>Patients 59 Nonpatients 37 </p><p>Rehab residents 20 </p><p>AB employees 17 </p><p>Males 56 </p><p>Females 40 </p><p>*p-C.05 **p. 10) values for art training and TPR scores were nonsignificant. These findings, consid- ered in conjunction with the frequency distribution </p><p>The foregoing results offer evidence that art train- ing has a significant impact on particular types of drawing analysis. What makes these results interest- ing is that they suggest that a certain amount of training is a necessary but not suficient condition for rendering relatively sophisticated drawings. It is my speculation that drawing training (or practice) is necessary in order to acquire the vocabulary of representational concepts needed to construct well- differentiated and well-integrated drawings. If this is the case, it seems plausible that those with a high level of ego development will use this vocabulary to put together complex visual statements whereas those with a low level will not-just as a knowl- edge of verbal language, acquired through years of </p><p>Table 3. Frequency of drawing category ratings for art training groups (N = 96) </p><p>Table 5. Frequency of TPR and drawing category ratings (N = 96) </p><p>Degree of art training 1 2 3 </p><p>Drawing scores 1 2 3 16 13 - </p><p>9 14 6 14 16 8 </p><p>Degree of art training 1 2 3 </p><p>TPR scores </p><p>1 2 3 19 14 6 11 23 9 3 6 5 </p></li><li><p>DRAWING ASSESSMENT AND ARTISTIC SKILL </p><p>training and experience, is a necessary but not suf- ficient condition for high-level performance on the ego-development measure. In sum, for those with little art training, artwork is not a valid measure of ego level. </p><p>But alternative explanations for the results should be considered. First, Loevingers test, developed for use with healthy populations, may not be suitable for psychiatric patients. However, the similarity be- tween the distribution of ego-level scores for the patient subsample and Holts (1980) normative dis- tribution for nonpatients (x2 = 5.5 1, p&gt; .OS) sug- gests otherwise-at least for these particular patients. Second, those undergoing psychiatric or rehabilita- tive treatment (82% of my sample) are probably ex- periencing disturbances in their interpersonal relation- ships. Consequently, producing a family drawing can be especially stressful. It may require a higher level of ego development to cope with such stress so that it does not interfere with task performance. Thus, lower-level individuals might experience skill regression on the K-D-F, but not on other drawing measures. Finally, alcoholism can result in neuro- logical deficits that also affect task performance. Of the nine participants with a high degree of art train- ing who received both low drawing and low TPR scores, five were alcoholics. These last two expla- nations, which may represent contaminating factors rather tha...</p></li></ul>