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

the sea."

"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.