SI Logo small
Incomplete Pictures
Incomplete Pictures Oneline Title

-- an exploration tool for any age

Developed by a team of educational psychologists, the Incomplete Pictures Technique is a simple way to engage a person of any age prior to launching a lengthy assessment session. It not only builds rapport quickly, especially for younger children unfamiliar with the concept of “testing,” but also allows the evaluator to preview the person’s intellectual level and any emotional issues that may also need to be explored.

The I.P.T. consists of 10 pictures “that have been started, but not finished.” The task is simple: decide what each picture is intended to be, and then proceed to complete the drawing. The first three pictures are quite easy to identify (even for preschoolers) -- a person, a tree, and a building. The next 7 pictures are increasingly ambiguous and abstract, making this essentially a projective assessment (i.e., in the absence of clear guidelines, the student must project his or her own world into the task). Thereby, the I.P.T. yields considerable information valuable for hypotheses about the child’s general functioning and adjustment, through an enjoyable activity familiar to all ages. Most kids and adults finish within 6 - 10 minutes.

Scoring is done according to a checklist, which takes into account the concrete response mode, ambiguous response mode, figure development, mental creativity, task orientation, and more. Observations of behavior at specific places, along with the finished pictures themselves, make it easy to complete the checklist for comparison with age-level, gender-specific norms. 

The scores help develop reasonable hypotheses about intellectual level, emotional dependency, resilience, adaptability, self-efficacy (locus of control), frustration tolerance, among other variables. When a possible problem area surfaces, further testing may be needed (e.g., intelligence test, mood assessment, personality evaluation). Of course, the level of fine-motor development is also easy to observe in the process.

The Incomplete Pictures Technique is not a valid stand-along assessment for determining intellectual, emotional, or other features of a child. Although it is administered in a standardized fashion, it nonetheless is a playful activity for the child and a light, non-threatening task for the adult, helping build rapport and relaxation for those unfamiliar with the testing environment and the examiner.

back to

SI Logo tiny

Order Incomplete Pictures Now