Build-a-Person Technique: An examination of the validity of human-figure features as evidence of childhood sexual abuse
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OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study examined the discriminant validity of 10 human-figure features commonly used by many proponents of the draw-a-person (DAP) projective technique as evidence of childhood sexual abuse. Two exploratory features were also examined. METHOD: Rather than drawing human figures, 64 children (M = 8 years, 9 months), including 19 sexually abused children, 26 nonsexually abused but emotionally/behaviourally troubled children, and 19 nonabused, nonclinical children, were instructed to build male and female figures using groups of prefabricated pieces of human-figure body parts. Unbeknownst to the children, each group of parts contained a potential sexual abuse feature (or features). RESULTS: None of the human-figure features under examination, either individually, or in combination, distinguished the sexually abused group from the other two groups of children. CONCLUSIONS: In accordance with years worth of DAP projective technique research, no support for the validity of the human-figure features under examination as evidence of childhood sexual abuse, was found.
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