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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: July 2009

11 - The Reflection of Social Images in Human Figure Drawing


In this chapter we present the development of an assessment methodology for the appraisal of implicit social representations based on human figure drawings (HFD) and the findings of studies in which it was utilized. The definition of “implicit social representation” includes implicit attitudes and stereotypes that according to Dovidio et al. (2001) refer to “evaluations and beliefs that are automatically activated by the mere presence (actual or symbolical) of the attitude object. They commonly function on the unconscious level” (p. 176). These implicit stereotypes and attitudes are of interest because they develop “with repeated pairings, either through direct experience or social learning of the association, between the category or object and evaluative and semantic characteristics” (Dovidio et al., 2001, p. 176), and, as such, their developmental trajectory can be compared with that of the explicitly expressed stereotypes and prejudice described in the previous chapters. Also, the comparison of implicit and explicit representations may be performed in the same study. For instance, HFDs may be accompanied by explicit measures such as a structured interview (for younger children) or by a questionnaire (for older children). Indeed, in the studies we conducted the HFDs were accompanied by a short version of an open-ended interview or questionnaire similar to those we used before (see Chapters 9, 10).