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

Edwin Hernandez


Problem. America is a country enriched with a diversity of cultural backgrounds. Information on Chinese-American children and their families is limited even though the Chinese are one of the main minority groups in America and increasingly more Chinese are migrating here. This study sought to use the Kinetic Family Drawing (KFD) as a tool to gain information about how Chinese-American children perceive themselves and their family relationships.

Method. The KFD was administered to 146 Chinese-Americans from three schools in Northern California: one in Oakland Chinatown, one in San Francisco Chinatown, and one private suburban San Francisco school. The 71 Caucasian-American subjects were children from two private schools in nearby areas. Both sample groups were non-clinic children from grades 3 through 6. The data were analyzed qualitatively, descriptively, and quantitatively by t-tests and analysis of variance.

Results. The KFD depicted the type of family that reflects Chinese culture. The overall communication level was low, and the mother was the most nurturing figure. Drawings depicting families doing things together or parents playing with children were rare. The most common mother and father actions were mother cooking and father reading the newspaper. The girls drew themselves most often doing homework, and the boys drew themselves playing ball.

The findings showed that some of the traditional Chinese family values have been replaced by American values. The variables of place of birth, length of time lived in America, and language preference all have a relationship with the acculturation process for the Chinese-American children.

The findings confirm that there were differences between the KFDs of the Chinese-American and Caucasian-American children. The Caucasian-American families were more interactive and communicative. Boys were most often drawn playing ball while girls were drawn reading and eating.

Conclusions. The KFD reflects both the values of children and their culture and appears to be useful for cross-cultural comparisons. Chinese-Americans, though still holding some of the traditional cultural values, have assimilated the American culture. Recent immigrant families appear to be more traditional than families who have lived in the United States a longer period of time.

Subject Area

Kinetic family drawing test, Chinese American children--Psychological testing

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