Thesis Title

A Cross-Cultural Comparison: Family Drawings of Japanese and American Elementary School Children in the United States

Graduation Date

Spring 1996

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


The cross-cultural sensitivity of family drawings as an assessment tool was examined. 39 (13 males, 26 females) 1st generation Japanese elementary school-age children (grade 3-6), and 64 (25 males, 39 females) 3rd generation U.S. elementary school-age children (grade 3-6), both samples residing in the U.S. were used. Testing occurred in a group setting during school hours. Demographic information was supplied by the consenting parent. Samples were provided with paper, pencil, and eraser and asked to draw a picture of their family. Drawings were rated anonymously by three raters. The drawings were rated for drawing type, touching, order drawn, omissions and additions, subgroups, and clusters.

Descriptive data was used. The U.S. and Japanese samples rated similarly overall for drawing type, drawing order, and omission and addition. The U.S. samples drew family members touching more frequently than the Japanese sample, as reflected in the cultural norms of physical contact. The Japanese samples omitted themselves more frequently than the U.S. sample. However, when drawn, the U.S. samples drew themselves last more frequently, and first less frequently than the Japanese sample, resulting in contradictory implications. The Japanese sample drew subgroups within the family more often, and the family as one tight unit less often than the U.S. sample suggesting a closer nuclear family unit in the U.S. Continued research using inferential statistics, and varied criteria of measurements are recommended.