Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell


Problem. While the Kinetic Family Drawing (KFD) is a popular assessment tool for clinicians, research on developmental issues and how siblings draw their families is lacking. The purpose of this study was to (a) describe the way siblings perceive themselves and their family interpersonal relationships as expressed in the KFD; and (b) to describe possible developmental age differences in the KFD.

Method. The KFD and a Family Dynamics Interview Schedule were administered to 50 pairs of first- and second-born children from Southwestern Michigan, ages 5-14. The data were analyzed quantitatively by the Wilcoxon Sign Test and Chi-Square, using a .05 level of significance. Sibling interaction and perspectives on the family were analyzed qualitatively.

Results. Second-born siblings drew significantly more barriers between self and mom and had a lower-rated overall perspective of the family. Significant differences were found in the way children of different ages draw their families in 21 KFD variables. Older children drew more detailed KFDs.

Competition/aggression is more prominent in same-sex sibling pairs, least in older male-younger female pairs. In mixed-sex pairs, females tend to draw interacting families, whereas males do not. Only 30% of sibling pairs agreed on sibling interaction, whereas 52% agreed on overall family perspectives. The age of a child has an effect on the perception of the family and the relationships within the family. Two-thirds of the children's interview responses did not agree with their KFDs.

Conclusion. A child's age, gender, and birth-order position in the family have an effect on the perception of the family and how it is portrayed in the KFD. Sibling rivalry appears to be more prevalent when the first- and second-born children are of the same gender. Often, what children say about their family is different from how they draw their family.

Subject Area

Kinetic Family Drawing Test

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