A comparison of the Kinetic Family Drawings of African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian third-graders




DeOrnellas, Kathy

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study explored similarities and differences between the Kinetic Family Drawings (KFDs) of third-grade children of African American, Hispanic, and American Caucasian ethnicity. The KFD is a projective drawing test which is usually administered to children. The child is asked to draw a picture of everyone in their family, including himself or herself, doing something. Numerous studies have been conducted on the use of KFDs with children of various cultural groups but this is the first study to control for developmental differences by limiting the subjects to a narrow age-span.

KFDs were collected from 161 third-graders (67 boys and 94 girls) at 3 elementary schools in the Dallas Public Schools. A large percentage of the children included in this study live in two-parent homes and over half live in homes with incomes of $20,000.00 or less. The parents of over one-third of the children had less than a high school education. Caucasian children made up 42.9% of the subjects while 32.9% were Hispanic, and 24.2% were African American.

Each KFD was independently scored by three trained scorers using an objective measure adapted from the work of Reynolds (1978). The scoring method used for this study incorporated the Style variables used in the Reynolds' Quick-Scoring Guide as well as several other factors: family interaction, size of mother compared with size of father, setting of drawing, and inclusion of extended family members. ANOVAs and chi-square analyses were conducted to determine the degree of relationship between race/ethnicity and factor scores.

It was predicted that African American and Hispanic children would have higher Style scores than Caucasian children on the KFD but this was not supported by the data. It was also predicted that the African American and Hispanic children would include more extended family members in their drawings than the Caucasian children. Although Hispanic children included more nuclear family members in their KFDs, no significant differences were found in the inclusion of extended family members by children in this study. Family Interaction scores were not found to differ significantly between the three groups included in this study.

It was predicted that African American children, as members of a matriarchal culture, would draw the mother figure larger than the father figure. The data did not support this hypothesis but African American children were found to omit one or more of the parent figures in their KFDs more frequently than Caucasian or Hispanic children. Another finding of this study was that both boys and girls drew their families in outdoor settings more frequently than indoor settings. Although there are limitations to this study which may have affected its ability to discern significant differences in the KFDs of children from African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian cultures, this study supports the inclusion of the KFD in test batteries used for assessing social-emotional adjustment in children of these ethnicities.



Psychology, Projective drawing, Child development