Using a computer scoring system to correlate stress response and indicators in the Draw-a-Person-in-the-Rain Test
Ziyang Li (Jiangsu University), Guorui Liu (Suzhou Guangji Hospital , Jiangsu), Yige Liu (University of Gävle), Zhiqiang Ma (Jiangsu University), 2021, 49(1), e9619.


The recent weather has aptly drawn me to pick this study for comment. Thetitle was somewhat fascinating in itself.

This is the first study I have dealt with that is based on drawing as a scale to test psychological factors. It is claimed that drawing tests can provide material to reveal a respondent’s preconscious or unconscious conflicts. This may well be true, but there are a number of questions that immediately arise with this phenomenon. First, as indicated in the study, is the lack of systematic scoring and interpretation.

In this particular test, the rain is considered the equivalent to the subjective stress and the size and quantity of the rain should be indicative of the degree of stress the person feels. These are measured by the number of raindrops, the distance between raindrops, the average raindrop length, and the area covered by raindrops. This gives the rater a fairly challenging and time-consuming task. Although drawing skill is stated as not required for the test, there might also be a degree of subjectivity on the part of the rater that interferes with interpreting a drawing. 

The solution proposed for this is scientific scoring by a computer program. This may help considerably, but, ironically, may lack the subjectivity required to interpret a drawing. 
In interpreting rain as a source of stress, the DAPR seemed to me to miss a vital factor. What if a participant actually enjoys rain and drew somebody dancing in the puddles? What if they were a drought-plagued farmer delighted with the rainfall? In the gathering of demographic data, this analysis did not appear to account for such possibilities.

For me, there were more fascinating questions raised than revealing facts provided in the analysis. I encourage others to read this paper and consider the benefits and limitations of this approach.

In addition, a phrase used in the study, “It is difficult to really explain…”, reminded me of the need in our editing work to try and pick up the seemingly insignificant detail of interpretation. It took me right back to a high school French test. The teacher suspected that my neighbor and I had cheated to achieve the same result. We found it almost impossible to persuade her that we “really hadn’t”, which she took to mean something quite different: “we hadn’t really”!.

Lesley Aitken | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal