American University
thesesdissertations_959_OBJ.pdf (2.19 MB)


Download (2.19 MB)
posted on 2023-08-05, 07:32 authored by Meryl Young Silver

Previous research has suggested that children's figure drawings reflect not only a central core of their inner attitudes, but also those values, characteristics and physical attributes which have status in the communities in which they live. Earlier studies suggested racial self-identification and acceptance is complicated for black children because they are aware of the devaluation of blacks in American society. This has been reflected in doll choice and Draw-A-Person research by reluctance of blacks to affirm their racial membership and to value their own physical attributes. Recent studies suggest a change related to integration, civil rights, and the black power and pride movements. This study attempted to measure any such change in racial self-identification through the use of a crayon version of the Draw-A-Person test. Subjects were 98 black students and 99 white students in the seventh and eighth grades in an urban, integrated junior high school in a mid-Atlantic area. To test for influence of examiner, half the sample was tested by a black female examiner, and half by a white female. The Draw-A-Person was group administered with each child receiving a sheet of blue tinted paper and nine crayons. Each child also completed an Inquiry form, a 44 item adjective checklist referring to physical characteristics, personal characteristics, and race of the figure drawn. All data was treated as group data, and analyzed by the chi square statistic. Independent judges classified the drawings into five categories: Clearly Black, Likely Black, Indeterminant or Other, Likely White, and Clearly White. Confidence in the usefulness of the Draw-A-Person as a measure of racial self-identification was supported by the fact that color used for skin tone was significantly related to race of child. Furthermore, judges' perception of race of drawing was significantly related to the child's own identification of race of drawing as well as to the actual race of the child. Black children tended to draw black persons, and white children to draw whites. However, results showed over twice as many white children (46%) as black (21%) colored in flesh tone appropriate for their own race. Furthermore, 74% of the white children drew persons agreed upon by judges as white, whereas only 34% of the black children drew figures judged to be black. Twenty-four percent of the black children drew figures rated as white, whereas only eight percent of the white children drew persons rated as black. These results contrast with analysis of responses on the Inquiry forms. A majority of both racial groups identified their drawings as persons of the same race, and described them in equally favorable terms. This disparity between the Inquiry results and how the drawings appeared clarifies the fact that there are actually two lines of Draw-A-Person research relevant to issues of racial self-identification. Some recent studies have analyzed only the Inquiry self-statements, and findings are similar to the Inquiry analysis in this experiment. However, all other studies have examined only the drawings themselves, and have reported even lower percentages of black self-acceptance as measured by inter-rater agreement on race of drawing. Present findings suggest a slowly changing trend toward greater acceptance of racial identity among black children. Possible reasons for the disparate results when drawings and Inquiry forms are compared were offered, as well as suggestions for future research.



American University




Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 42-03, Section: B, page: 1191.; Ph.D. American University 1981.; English


Media type


Access statement


Usage metrics

    Theses and Dissertations


    No categories selected