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Title: The construction of the 'plan of a house test' and an investigation into some of its developmental and clinical implications in children
Author: Thorstad, M. G.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1974
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A chance finding revealed that a boy with no measurable spatial ability and a history of possible neurological trauma could not draw a plan of his house. As emotionally disturbed children were also inferior in the task, it was hypothesized that they too might have some neurological dysfunction. A test of drawing a plan of a house was constructed as a means of testing this hypothesis. In the course of the item selection, developmental features were noticed, which suggested that children's skill in plan drawing was associated with the growing awareness of projective and euclidian space as elucidated by Piaget. Problems in comprehending walls as divisions of a total space were probably not particular to this 3D space, but could also be found in 2D space. A sex difference in favour of the boys was a constant finding, but when the effects of experience and teaching were explored, the earlier supposition of an innate and possibly neurological difference was modified, and one mediated by personality variables seemed to fit the facts more appropriately. Introspection as to the nature of the task suggested that spatial ability might be involved, but a factor analysis, using the scores of clinic children, revealed that the Plan test loaded also on verbal and visuomotor factors. The extent to which this result can be generalized to normal and older populations is limited by the samples psychiatric disorder, its young age and inadequacies of the battery of tests forming the factor structure. Contrary to expectations and to findings on other visuo-motor tests, hemiplegic children did not show a specific disability on this test, nor was there any support for the hypothesis that children with left hemisphere damage would score higher than those with right hemisphere damage. Clinic children with reactive and neurotic disorders scored lower on the test than non-clinic children. There was also some association with neuroticism on the NMP1, but not with the Rutter or Rotter scales of maladjustment. As a test it was reliable and the results were not influenced by previous experience or teaching, except those of a few individual girls. Concurrent and construct validity with emotional disturbance was established. The initial hypothesis that this test might reveal a disability common to children with a psychiatric disorder and to those with neurological dysfunctions was not supported.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Experimental Psychology