Description Of Pictures
PROCEDURE. Use the same pictures as in III, 3, presenting them always in
the following order: Dutch Home, River Scene, Post-Office. The formula
for the test in this year is somewhat different from that of year III.
Say: "_What is this picture about? What is this a picture of?_" Use the
double question, and follow the formula exactly. It would ruin the test
to say: "_Tell me everything you see in this picture_," for this form of
question tends to provoke the enumeration response even with intelligent
children of this age.
When there is no response, the question may be repeated as often as is
necessary to break the silence.
SCORING. The test is passed if _two of the three_ pictures are described
or interpreted. Interpretation, however, is seldom encountered at this
age. Often the response consists of a mixture of enumeration and
description. The rule is that the reaction to a picture should not
be scored _plus_ unless it is made up chiefly of description (or
Study of the following samples of satisfactory responses will give a
fairly definite idea of the requirements for satisfactory description:--
_Picture (a): satisfactory responses_
"The little girl is crying. The mother is looking at her and
there is a little kitten on the floor."
"The mother is watching the baby, and the cat is looking at a
hole in the floor, and there is a lamp and a table so I guess
it's a dining room."
"The little girl has wooden shoes. Her mother is sitting in a
chair and has a funny cap on her head. The cat is sitting on the
floor and there is a basket by the mother and a table with
something on it."
"It's about Holland. The little Dutch girl is crying and the
mother is sitting down."
"A little Dutch girl and her mother and that's a kitten, and the
little girl has her hand up as if she was doing something to her
forehead. She has shoes that curve up in front."
"Dutch lady, and the little baby doesn't want to come to her
mother and the cat is looking for some mice."
"The mother is sitting down and the little one has her hands up
over her eyes. There's a pail by the mother and a chair with
some clothes on it and a table with dishes. And here's a lamp
and here's some curtains."
_Picture (b): satisfactory responses_
"Some people in a boat. The water is high and if they don't look
out the boat will tip over."
"Some Indians and a lady and man. They are in a boat on the
river and the boat is about to upset, and there are some dead
trees going to fall."
"There's a lot of water coming up to drown the people. There are
two people in the boat and the boat is sinking."
"There's some people sailing in a canoe and the woman is leaning
over on the man because she is afraid."
"There's an Indian and some white people in the boat. I suppose
they are out for a ride in a canoe."
"Picture about some man and lady in a canoe and going down to
"They are taking a boat ride on the ocean and the water is up so
high that one of them is scared. Here are some trees and two of
them are going to fall down. Here's a little place or bridge you
can stand on. The man is touching this one's head and this one
has his hand on the cover."
"The water is splashing all over. There's trees on this bank and
there's a rock and some trees falling down. The people have a
blanket over them."
_Picture (c): satisfactory responses_
"A man selling eggs and two men reading the paper together and
two men watching."
"A few men reading a newspaper and one has a basket of eggs and
this one has been fishing."
"There's a man with a basket of eggs and another is reading the
paper and a woman is hanging out clothes. There's a house near."
"There's a man trying to read the paper and the others want to
read it too. Here's a lady walking up to the barn. There are
houses over there and one man has a basket."
"There's a big brick house and five men by it and a man with a
basket of eggs and a post-office sign and a lady going home."
"They are all looking at the paper. He is looking over the other
man's shoulder and this one is looking at the back of the paper.
There's a woman cleaning up her back yard and some coops for
"A man reading a paper, a man with eggs, a woman and a tree and
another house. That man has an apron on. This is the
Unsatisfactory responses are those made up entirely or mainly of
enumeration. A phrase or two of description intermingled with a larger
amount of enumeration counts _minus_. Sometimes the description is
satisfactory as far as it goes, but is exceedingly brief. In such cases
a little tactful urging ("_Go ahead_," etc.) will extend the response
sufficiently to reveal its true character.
REMARKS. Description is better than enumeration because it involves
putting the elements of a picture together in a simple way or noting
their qualities. This requires a higher type of mental association
(combinative power) than mere enumeration. An unusually complete
description indicates relative wealth of mental content and facility of
Binet placed this test in year VII, and it seems to have been retained
in this location in all revisions except Bobertag's. However, the
statistics of various workers show much disagreement. Lack of agreement
is easily accounted for by the fact that different investigators have
used different series of pictures and doubtless also different standards
for success. The pictures used by Binet have little action or detail and
are therefore rather difficult for description. On the other hand, the
Jingleman-Jack pictures used by Kuhlmann represent such familiar
situations and have so much action that even 5- or 6-year intelligence
seldom fails with them. The pictures we employ belong without question
in year VII.
No better proof than the above could be found to show how ability of a
given kind does not make its appearance suddenly. There is no one time
in the life of even a single child when the power to describe pictures
suddenly develops. On the contrary, pictures of a certain type will
ordinarily provoke description, rather than enumeration, as early as
5 or 6 years; others not before 7 or 8 years, or even later.