Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work




Projective techniques, Child artists, Psychology of Drawing, Police



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, v, 55 leaves)


The overall objectives of this study had a dual focus. One was to determine the attitudes of children toward police from projective drawings. The second utilized the experience of performing the first objective to assess the possible adaptation and use of projective techniques in social work. One hundred and twenty-nine children from three different Portland public schools were given the topic “I met a policeman in my neighborhood” and asked to draw a picture. Second graders in an upper white socioeconomic school, a lower white socioeconomic school, and a school in a lower socioeconomic Negro area were compared. It was expected that the Negro children’s drawings of policemen would indicate more negative feelings than the drawings from either a similar socioeconomic group of white children or a higher socioeconomic group of white children. The lower socioeconomic white children’s drawings of policemen were expected to show more negative feelings than the drawings of the upper socioeconomic white group. To test the overall study hypotheses eight hypotheses were developed. These hypotheses were tested through eight judgment categories: distance between self and policeman, ratio of height of self to height of policeman, omitted body parts of policeman, large hands of policeman, number of weapons, and obvious aggression by policeman. Each picture was judged independently and blind by two judges. A third judge was used in cases of disagreement. Judgment agreement was above 95% for all eight categories. Resulting judgments for the three groups were compared on all eight items through chi square and median tests. A composite score for each picture consisting of the total number of the eight categories judged to be negative was then used to test the overall hypothesis. Comparison of the three groups on the individual categories yielded mixed results. The upper white group was significantly less negative than both other groups on the omissions item, and less negative than the lower socioeconomic Negro group on the height and smile items. Differences between the lower white and lower Negro socioeconomic groups and between the upper and lower white groups were inconclusive. The lower white group was more negative than the other groups on the omissions and less negative on the weapons items. These differences were not in the predicted direction. Testing of the overall hypothesis showed the upper white socioeconomic group less negative in their attitudes toward policemen than either the lower white or the lower Negro socioeconomic groups. There was no significant difference between the lower white and lower Negro socioeconomic groups. The study would suggest, then, that the upper socioeconomic white children have less negative attitudes toward policemen than either of the other two groups. This difference seems to be more socioeconomic than racial, since the Negro children’s drawings should have showed more negative attitudes than the white children of the same socioeconomic status if determinants were primarily racial. It was possible in this study for social workers to have high judgment agreement, but only by utilizing simplified and very concrete judgment criteria. Much skill and training are required for social workers to utilize the projectives. In addition, validity is difficult to determine, and interpretation of data using projective techniques can be uncertain and ambiguous. Given these limitations, the utilization of projective methods by social workers should be undertaken with caution.


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Portland State University. School of Social Work

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