BCS70 – Age 5 – Human Figure Drawing

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The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 5 sweep using the Human Figure Drawing measure.

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:General ability (perceptual)
Measures:General mental and perceptual ability. Indicative of 'conceptual maturity' (Harris, 1963)
CHC:Gv (Visual processing)
Administrative method:Health visitor at home; draw
Procedure:The child was asked to 'make a picture of a man or a lady'. (Terms such as 'daddy', 'mummy', 'boy', 'girl', etc., could be used if the child responded better to those). They were asked to make the best picture they could and to draw a whole person, not just a face or head. When the child had finished, if anything was not clear, the child was asked what the various parts of the drawings were and these were labelled.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/BCS70_age5_test_booklet.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:The scoring scheme adopted was based on 30 developmental items suggested by Koppitz (1968), but used the Harris point system of scoring, whereby one point was awarded for each item represented in the drawing (e.g. presence of a head, eyes, etc.) giving a maximum possible score of 30. Weights were assigned to values of items depending on the frequency with which they appeared in the children's drawings. Items which appeared frequently in drawings were assigned negative weights which were applied if children did not produce them. Items which appeared infrequently in drawings were assigned positive weights which were applied if children did produce them. These are the equivalent of the expected and unexpected Items as described by Koppitz for this age group (see Golding pp. 279-283).
Item-level variable(s):f020 - f083
Total score/derived variable(s):f113 (Hfd-1-score: Harris Scoring Method)
f114 (Hfd-2-score: Harris Scoring Method)
f115 (Hfd-1-score: Koppitz Scoring Method)
f116 (Hfd-2-score: Koppitz Scoring Method)
f121 (standardised)*
* variable was being updated at time of writing, please check carefully
Age of participants (months):Mean = 61.78, SD = 1.33, Range = 60 - 77
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 12,784
Range = 1 - 23
Mean = 10.42
SD = 3.15
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:NCDS – Age 7 – Human Figure Drawing (different scoring system)
Source:Modified version of the 'Draw-a-man' test (Goodenough, 1926) and later developed by Harris (1963).
Goodenough, F. L. (1926). The measurement of intelligence by drawings. New York: World Book Company.
Harris, D. B. (1963). Children's drawings as measures of intellectual maturity. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.
Scoring was based on: Koppitz, E M. (1968). Psychological Evaluation of Children's Human Figure Drawings. New York: Grune and Stratton.
Technical resources:Parsons, S. (2014). Childhood cognition in the 1970 British Cohort Study, CLS Working Paper. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Golding, J. (1975). The 1970 Birth Cohort 5-Year Follow-up: Guide to the Dataset. Bristol: University of Bristol Institute of Child Health.
Reference examples:Flouri, E. (2006). Parental interest in children's education, children's self-esteem and locus of control, and later educational attainment: Twenty-six year follow-up of the 1970 British Birth Cohort. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 41-55.
Batty, G.D., Deary, I. J., Schoon, I., & Gale, C. R. (2007). Mental ability across childhood in relation to risk factors for premature mortality in adult life: the 1970 British Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 61(11), 997-1003.
Meunier, M., De Coulon, A., Marcenaro-Gutierrez, O., & Vignoles, A. (2013). A longitudinal analysis of UK second-generation disadvantaged immigrants. Education Economics, 21(2), 105-134.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.