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

F. Colleen Steck


Problem. Sexual characteristics normally included in children's drawings need to be identified. This study sought to gain definitive information regarding the relationship between (1) child's age, (2) child's sex, (3) media exposure, and (4) sexual characteristics included in Human Figure Drawings (HFD) and Kinetic Family Drawings (KFD).

Method. The HFD, the KFD, and an interview schedule concerning exposure to various media were administered to 560 non-clinic and 81 clinic children, ages 6-18. Sexual characteristics in children's drawings and the amount and type of media the children had experienced were analyzed qualitatively and by Chi-square and Discriminant Analysis. Significance was set at .05.

Results. Drawings contain different sexual characteristics as the child develops and matures. The HFD and the KFD were very similar. There were significant differences between sexual characteristics included in drawings of non-clinic and clinic children (those with sexual experience either as victim or perpetrator). Clinic children (ages 12-17) scored higher for omission of hands, fingers, feet, ears, nose, and mouth; large breasts, object in mouth, underdressed or naked, gender ambiguity, lack of curves, and were either very sexual or asexual. Hair emphasis, facial emphasis, circles, pockets, secondary sexual characteristics, long neck, and nurturance of mother were higher for non-clinic children. Media exposure influenced the type and amount of sexual characteristics children included in their drawings and was different for clinic and non-clinic children. Hard rock, hobby, sex, and teen magazines, pop rock music, educational and romance movies or videos, children's TV shows, theater attendance, and higher sexual content media were significantly related to sexual characteristics.

Conclusions. Children of different age and sex include different sexual characteristics in their drawings. The HFD and KFD included many of the same sexual characteristics, which correlated with media exposure and actual sexual experience. Qualitative and quantitative differences exist between the drawings of children from non-clinic and clinic samples.

Subject Area

Kinetic family drawing test.

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