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Draw-a-Man Test: The Importance of Birth Order on Cognitive Development. By Julia Dougherty and Bianca Marsella. Florence Goodenough. Born on Aug. 6, 1886 in Honesdale, PA Youngest of nine children

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draw a man test the importance of birth order on cognitive development

Draw-a-Man Test: The Importance of Birth Order on Cognitive Development

By Julia Dougherty and Bianca Marsella

florence goodenough
Florence Goodenough
  • Born on Aug. 6, 1886 in Honesdale, PA
  • Youngest of nine children
  • Graduated from Normal School in Millersville, Pennsylvania with her Bachelor of Pedagogy in 1908
  • Taught for eight years
  • Received her M.A. from Columbia University
  • Began working with Lewis Terman developing the Stanford-Binet IQ test for children.
  • Earned her Ph.D. under Terman in 1924
florence goodenough1
Florence Goodenough
  • Began working at Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic
  • Was appointed an assistant professor of the Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota within a year
  • Was promoted to full professor six years later in 1931
  • 14 texts, and 26 research articles
  • Particularly interested in children although she never married
  • Forced to retire early due to physical illness
  • Went blind
  • Died of a stroke in her sister's home in Florida on April 4, 1959
the draw a man test
The Draw-a-Man Test
  • Test works best in pre-artistic stage (until age 9 or 10): “a child draws what he knows, rather than what he sees”
  • Drawings made by young children have an intellectual, not aesthetic, origin
  • Drawings are determined by concept

development, not visual accuracy or

manual skill

the draw a man test1
The Draw-a-Man Test
  • Drawings are a form of expression, rather than a means of creating beauty.
  • The child who shows real creative ability in art is likely to rank high in general mental ability.
  •  Connection between intelligence and good drawings: Good memory for details and perseverance v. carelessness
the draw a man test2
The Draw-a-Man Test
  • Test measures “ability to analyze,

to abstract certain elements from

the total impression made by an

object, and to reconstruct the

whole in terms of those parts which experience has shown to be essential to it.”

  • Error of estimate of a true IQ earned on the drawing test is approximately 5.4 points
the draw a man test3
The Draw-a-Man Test
  • More widely used than other tests – nonverbal
  • Time efficient
  • Why a man?
    • Familiar
    • Consistent
    • Simple and complicated
    • Universal
dale b harris
Dale B. Harris
  • “Of the many tests of intelligence, the Goodenough Draw-a-Man Test is perhaps the most unusual in its basic conception, brevity, and general convenience.”
  • Revised her test
    • Extended ages into adolescence
    • Increased number of scored elements from 51 to 73
alfred adler
Alfred Adler
  • Born Feb. 7, 1870 outside Vienna, Austria
  • Third of six children?
  • 1895: M.D. at the University of Vienna
  • Married Raissa Timofeyewna and had 4 kids
alfred adler1
Alfred Adler
  • Worked with Freud from 1902-1911 before they split
    • Wrote paper on children's feelings of inferiority
    • Focused on “the necessity of looking at man as a whole, as a functioning entity, reacting to his environment as well as to his physical endowment, rather than as a summation of instincts, drives and other psychological manifestations.”
  • Served as a physician in a children’s hospital in the Austrian Army in WWI where he saw the damage that war does, and turned his thought more toward social interest.
alfred adler2
Alfred Adler
  • Founded several child guidance clinics in Vienna
  • Held the chair of Visiting Professor of Medical Psychology at Long Island College of Medicine from 1932 on
  • Died in Scotland from a heart attack on May 28, 1937
alfred adler3
Alfred Adler
  • Oldest:
    • Takes on responsibility and seeks power
    • Teach younger siblings
  • Middle:
    • May have a “take it or leave it” attitude
    • If second oldest, is competitive and tries to overtake oldest
  • Youngest:
    • Older children try to educate them
    • Wants to be bigger than the others
    • Frequently spoiled
  • Only:
    • Frequently spoiled and likes attention
    • Prefers adult company and uses adult language
alfred adler4
Alfred Adler
  • Psychological situation of each child in the family is different.
  • Child's opinion of himself and attitude play a part
  • If more than 3 years separate children, sub-groups of birth order may form
  • A child's birth order position may be seized by another child
  • Other potentially significant influences (other than mere birth order) are parental attitudes, social & economic position, and gender roles.
  • Birth order differences may begin to disappear when families became less competitive and autocratic, and more cooperative and democratic
oldest children
Oldest Children
  • Parents expect a lot, usually given

responsibility and set as an example

  • First-borns and onlies tend to achieve

more academically than later-borns

  • Most likely to go to college
  • Believes they must gain and hold superiority over other children
  • Receive intellectual boost that comes from mentoring younger siblings and helping them in day-to-day tasks.
  • Have on average a three-point IQ advantage over the next eldest
  • Have a tendency to act as if they are parental surrogates, especially if the age gap between them and the second child is large
  • Strives to please
middle children
Middle children
  • Independent but rebellious
  • Frequently “problem child”
  • Either strive to catch up

with older siblings or become

discouraged and give up

youngest children
Youngest Children
  • Develops feelings of inferiority or becomes "speeder" and overtakes older siblings
  • Wants to be bigger than the others, frequently spoiled
  • Feels every one bigger and more capable.
  • Expects others to do things, make decisions, take responsibility
only children
Only Children
  • Tend to rely on others’ efforts more than their own
  • First-borns and onlies tend to achieve more academically than later-borns
  • Frequently spoiled
in comparison
In Comparison
  • 43% of business executives are firstborns, 33% are middle-borns and 23% are last-borns
  • 21 of the first 23 astronauts were fist-borns
  • 52% of U.S. presidents were firstborns, but only 10% were youngests
  • Later-borns tend to be looser cannons, and less educated but pursue riskier, more innovative, more creative approaches—more likely to become an artist, comedian, adventurer, entrepreneur, or firefighter
in comparison1
In Comparison
  • On personality tests, firstborns score especially well on conscientiousness (a sense of general responsibility and follow-through), but later-borns score higher on agreeableness
  • Researchers say: later-born children seem to score lower on standard IQ tests than their older siblings. The further down the birth order one is, the lower one’s IQ is likely to be.
  • A different study found: When they looked within families, there was absolutely no connection between birth order and IQ
key terms
Key Terms
  • Birth Order - chronological order of sibling births in a family
  • Cognitive Development - construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making
  • Intellectual Maturity - ability to tolerate uncertainty, recognize the merit of opposing views, etc. without lapsing into skepticism
  • Intelligence - capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity or ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations
  • IQ– intelligence quotient; number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person
key terms1
Key Terms
  • Mental age - measure of mental development as determined by intelligence tests, generally restricted to children and persons with intellectual impairment and expressed as the age at which that level of development is typically attained
  • Pre-artistic period – the artistic stage in which a child’s art is primarily symbolic
  • Raw Score - any number as it originally appears in an experiment (number of included elements in ours)
  • Standard Score - test score of a participant expressed as the deviation of the score from the mean score of the sample in units of standard deviation
our project
Our Project
  • The Florence Goodenough Draw-a-Man test proposes that a child’s cognitive level of development can be determined by evaluating and comparing their drawings of a man.  Will the birth order of a child affect children’s score on Goodenough’s Draw-a-Man test?
  • Second-graders at parochial schools
  • 12 at Holy Family
  • 27 at The Highlands
  • 19 boys and 20 girls
  • 10 first-borns, 10 middle-borns, 13 last-borns, and 6 only children
critical questions
Critical Questions
  • 1. Will the only/oldest children score the highest because of their close relationship to their parents?  
  • 2. Will the middle children score highest because of their diverse relationships with both older and younger children?
  • 3. Will the youngest children score highest because of their relationships with their older siblings and parents?
  • 4. Will they all score roughly the same because each has a different but equal advantage?
  • Julia: The parents invest the most in the first-born. They are expected to take on the most responsibility and get an “intellectual boost” from tutoring and mentoring their younger siblings. While younger siblings are more creative they are also more carefree and therefore have a tendency to be more careless. Oldest children, however, are better at persevering and analyzing, and will thus score higher on the test than children of other birth orders.
  • Bianca: Younger children are exposed to a wider range of stimuli at a younger age by their interactions with older siblings on a daily basis. The child may learn from not only their parents, but their siblings as well and will therefore score higher on the “Draw-a-Man Test.”
highest oldest child score
Highest Oldest Child Score:


Age 7

Raw Score: 37

Standard Score: 132

lowest oldest child score
Lowest Oldest Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 17

Standard Score: 83

highest middle child score
Highest Middle Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 49

Standard Score: 145

Highest Score

lowest middle child score
Lowest Middle Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 12

Standard Score: 70

Lowest Score

highest youngest child score
Highest Youngest Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 46

Standard Score: 135

lowest youngest child score
Lowest Youngest Child Score:


Age 7

Raw Score: 18

Standard Score: 90

highest only child score
Highest Only Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 36

Standard Score: 116

lowest only child score
Lowest Only Child Score:


Age 8

Raw Score: 24

Standard Score: 96


By Gender



Bianca was right!

Maybe some day Julia will be as smart as her…

  • These results confirmed Bianca’s hypothesis:
  • The youngest children scored highest on the Goodenough’s Draw-A-Man Test with a standard score of 117.7. Therefore, this research project demonstrates that there is a correlation between children’s birth order and their scores on the Goodenough’s Draw-A-Man Test.
nature or nurture
Nature or Nurture?
  • Goodenough:

Nature Nurture

    • Her belief that “a child draws what he knows, rather than what he sees in the pre-artistic stage” suggests that a child cannot be taught some things until they have reached a specific level of cognitive development on their own.
nature or nurture1
Nature or Nurture?
  • Adler:

Nature Nurture

    • He believed in “the necessity of looking at man as a whole, as a functioning entity, reacting to his environment as well as to his physical endowment, rather than as a summation of instincts, drives and other psychological manifestations,” but also held that a child’s perception influences the way he sees the world.
  • Factors in administering test
    • Twins
    • Setting of test
    • Talking
  • Too few children
  • Limited number of schools and school type
if we could do it again
If We Could Do It Again:
  • Sample more children
  • Choose a wider variety of schools
  • Make sure the children were in their classroom and didn’t talk to each other
  • Make sure they all drew a man
  • Document where exactly the middle children where in the birth order.
  • Take into account step-siblings.