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Title:Interpreting abuse from self-representational drawings: a mixed-method study
Author(s):Kazmierczak, Elzbieta T
Director of Research:Dhillon, Pradeep A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dhillon, Pradeep A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rounds, James; Brown, Ruth N.; Darder, Antonia
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):projective drawings
visual interpretation
drawing-based assessments
interpersonal abuse
visual heuristics
Abstract:This interdisciplinary research studied the intuitive process affecting the diagnostic interpretations of drawings. It utilized quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how subjectivity and heuristic strategies of interpreters might affect how accurately the interpreters differentiate between self-representational drawings created by persons who have experienced abuse and persons who have not been abused. This study used a non-clinical sample of 196 self-representational drawings created by college students, and 60 independent judges who were naive to the diagnostic interpretation of drawings. The first purpose of this study was to introduce a unified, semiotic-naturalistic framework and an empirically grounded methodology for analyzing visual interpretation in general that, in particular, could be used for the diagnostic analysis of images to identify drawers who have suffered interpersonal abuse. The second purpose was to assess the diagnostic utility of a novel, self-portrait drawing protocol, titled Inside Me¬–Outside Me, which I developed for gauging drawers’ self-perceptions and worldviews. The third purpose was to examine the relationships between interpreter’s diagnostic performance and gender, exposure to abuse, and professional expertise. The fourth purpose was to identify heuristic strategies that are intuitively used in interpretation and how those heuristics affect interpretations and accuracy. There were three quantitative and qualitative main findings of this study. First, the study indicated that judges who self-identified as having been abused more often saw indicators of abuse than judges who did not self-identify as having been abused. In particular, female judges who self-identified as having been abused saw indicators of abuse more frequently than female judges who did not self-identify as having been abused, and more often than both abused and non-abused male judges. The results obtained in this study expand the literature on the role of interpreter subjectivity in the interpretation of diagnostic drawings by indicating the effect of experiencing abuse on subsequent interpretations. Second, the study identified a number of recurring visual characteristics, to which many different judges assigned the same meanings. Third, judges who reported utilizing specific heuristic strategies as the criteria for classification of drawings were more accurate than judges who did not indicate using such strategies. Furthermore, this study found a number of specific heuristic judgment strategies that were used independently by different judges. Those heuristics included: ease-of-understanding, out-of-the-norm, dominance, gestalt, elaboration, and normalcy. This finding indicates a potential for further research, linking visual interpretation with visual cognition and decision making. The results of this study, however tentative, suggest that interpretation is not an idiosyncratic process, but may be seen as cognition-based processes working in tandem with cultural factors. Discussion includes the potential implications of this study for research and practice in visual analysis, education, psychological assessment, therapy, and advocacy against domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.
Issue Date:2015-07-13
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Elzbieta T. Kazmierczak
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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