The Self-portrait - Handbook of practical psychologist at 2...

Method Self-portrait

E. S. Romanova and S. F. Potemkina propose a modified version of the R. Burns technique, "Self-portrait", which can be used to diagnose the personality of a high school student. Two interpretations of this test are presented: author's and their own, original.

A self-portrait is an image of a person created by himself. For psychodiagnostics, it is important to what extent a self-portrait as an image of its creator exhausts its model and is limited to it; on what typological grounds it can be distinguished.

Self-portrait has several lines of development, as well as the vertices of its artistic embodiment. Summarizing the variety of forms of self-portrait in painting, we can distinguish:

• the face image as the center of the picture; very often this is a graphic image;

• image of the portrait in the interior, complementing and deflecting the portrait;

• an image of several self-portraits that differ in age, characterizing different age stages of the life path;

• The recently distributed self-portrait is a metaphor that serves as a kind of arena for all sorts of psychological experiments designed for the most sophisticated imagination of the viewer. For example, the image of a young woman in an emphatically extravagant fashion suit balancing on a rope hanging in the air;

• The plot self-portrait, performed in the usual, quite real situation, i.e. in a circle of close friends, where the author talks, eats, drinks, walks, etc .;

• an exceptional situation, but quite realistic, in which participation in an important event occurring in reality is depicted;

• an image of a fictional, fantastic situation in which the author was never and all this was happening without him.

The purpose of the technique is to identify individual - typological features of a person. To perform the test, you need a pencil or pen, a sheet of paper measuring 10 x 15 cm. Instructions for subjects: "Draw your portrait."

Interpretation I

Test Self-portrait adapted by R. Burns (USA, Institute for Human Development, Seattle), who suggested that the subject be drawn alone or with family members, colleagues at work. Burns interprets elements that can be detected in a self-portrait as follows:

Head. A large head usually involves great intellectual claims or discontent with its intellect, a small head - a sense of intellectual or social inadequacy.

Eyes. The large eyes in the figure suggest suspicion, as well as the manifestation of concern and hypersensitivity to public opinion. Small or closed eyes usually suggest self-absorption and a tendency to introvert.

Ears and nose. Large ears suggest sensitivity to criticism. The emphasis shifted to the nose is the presence of sexual problems. Dedicated nostrils indicate a tendency to aggression.

Mouth. A dedicated mouth suggests primitive oral tendencies or a possible difficulty with speech. Absence of mouth means either depression or lethargy in communication.

Hands. They symbolize the contact of the person with the world around him. So, the bound hands assume a rigid, obligatory, closed personality. Sluggishly lowered hands mean inefficiency; fragile, weak hands - physical or psychological weakness. Long, strong hands indicate an ambition and a strong involvement in the events of the outside world. Very short hands suggest a lack of ambition and a sense of inadequacy.

Legs. Long legs mean a need for independence. Large legs imply a need for security. A figure without legs means instability and lack of a foundation. For example, deserters often draw people without legs.

Interpretation II (integrative-evaluative)

The test is designed to identify individual - typological features of a person, his ideas about himself, his appearance, personality and attitude to it.

When analyzing drawings, the image features are highlighted, on the basis of which all the pictures can be combined as follows:

1. Aesthetic image. Performed by persons having artistic abilities. In particular, according to graphical tests and the test "Self-portrait" it is always possible to distinguish persons possessing the "hand of an artist". Lightness, flexibility of lines, expressiveness of features, conciseness of an image are distinguished by drawings of such people.

2. Schematic image - in the form of a face, body scheme, bust, drawn in profile and full face. This type of image is more often attracted to people of an intellectual warehouse, for which it is important to obtain the most general ideas about the phenomenon; particulars and details they are interested in as necessary. Apparently, this image corresponds to a synthetic cognitive style with a tendency to generalization.

3. A realistic image , performed with more detailed details: drawing faces, hair, ears, neck, clothes.

Typically, people who are very pedantic, prone to detail, analytical cognitive style, draw this picture.

4. A metaphorical image - a person depicts himself in the form of an object, for example a kettle or a chemical test tube, a sports equipment, an animal, a plant, a literary character, etc. Such an image is performed by persons of artistic structure, possessing a developed fantasy, creative abilities and, of course, a certain share of the sense of humor.

5. Self-portrait in the interior - the image of a person surrounded by objects, in the background of a landscape, a room, etc. This kind of image is typical for people who have the ability to plot the story, as well as focus on the external object environment.

6. The emotional self-portrait - the person reflected himself in some emotional state. Such a portrait is often a cartoon or reminiscent of it. Apparently, people with higher emotionality, reflecting their own state, tend to such a pattern, and the emotion experienced can often be the opposite of the one that is depicted. For example, a sad person often draws a smiling face, etc.

7. Picture of a pose or movement - a person depicts himself in the period of performing some action. A similar type of image is probably characteristic of persons with expressive movements, sport, dancing, etc.

8. The image of a self-portrait from the back - instead of a person is drawn the back of the head. Usually such an image is peculiar to people who have a contradiction in relation to an instruction, for example, an experimenter, etc., or if they are unwilling to draw a face and other images.


Dedicated groups of drawings allow you to perform the first stage of material processing. Ways of processing this test can be very different - from superficial correlation with one or another type of image to complex and accurate measurements and comparison with a photograph.

A special scheme has been developed for processing the test, which allows to reveal both qualitative and quantitative indicators of the image. On the basis of the scheme, the individual and group data of the test are compared, and the obtained data are compared according to the graphical methodology with the indicators of other methods (personality questionnaires, perception parameters, memory, etc.).

Test processing scheme Self-portrait



Dedicated Feature


One-person image


Bust image


Full-height image


Profile Image


Full Face Image


Schematic representation


Realistic image




Self-portrait in the interior


More than one image (2, 3, etc.)


Self-portrait in the background of a landscape


Self portrait in a decorative frame


Self-portrait in an emotional state


Self-portrait in the form of a literary character


Self-portrait in the form of a moving image


Self-portrait with an object in hand


Image size, cm


Image height, cm


The degree of similarity of the image with the original on a scale (1, 2, 3)


Degree of pressure, line thickness (1, 2, 3)


The presence of hatching (1, 2, 3)


Emotional expressiveness of the image (1, 2, 3)


Degree of facial drawing


Presence of the eye


Presence of the nose


Having a mouth


Eyebrow presence


The presence of eyelashes, etc.

Example of an image description using the highlighted features

The portrait refers to a group of realistic images, it contains all the elements of the face, a hairstyle, clothes with a pattern. The portrait is made in the form of a bust, is enclosed in a decorative frame. The size of the portrait indicates a favorable physical condition, which emphasizes the presence of blush on the cheeks. His original has a pronounced sociability, interest in the person and some demonstrativeness (this is evidenced by the presence of a decorative framework and features of drawing faces). The degree of pressure and shading shows a slight internal stress.

In Table. 4.2 shows the percentage of the characteristics identified in the processing of the test for a group of 500 people (adult subjects, men and women). It can be seen from the table that the realistic image of the face (31%) and the realistic image in the form of a bust (15%), the smallest - in the plot image (2%) and the portrait in the interior (4%) are the highest. A metaphorical image is found in 10% of the subjects.

Table 4.2

The ratio of the highlights of the image to the test Self-portrait (in a group of 500 people)

No. п/п

Highlighted characteristic

The frequency of occurrence of the characteristic, %


Schematic representation of a full digger



Schematic representation in the form of a face



A realistic face image



Full-height realistic image



A realistic full-height image with an object



Portrait in the interior



Scene image



Metaphorical image



A realistic image in the form of a bust



Realistic image in profile


Interpretation III (G. Reed)

The material obtained in the "Self-portrait" test can be ordered according to G. Reed's scheme, which was developed using CG Jung's typology, which is based on the concepts of extraversion of introversion and the dominance of basic mental functions: thinking, intuition, sensation and feeling . Jung identified eight personality types. In turn, the English researcher Herbert Reed analyzed several thousand children's drawings and came to the conclusion that the whole variety of forms of artistic expressions of children can also be reduced to eight types, which he tried to bring into line with the personal typology of Jung. In his analysis, Reid relied on a variety of forms of artistic expression of children. He singled out eight kinds of drawings:

1. Enumerating a picture : an image of several self-portraits with an instruction to draw one; according to Jung's typology - a mental extrovert.

2. Organic drawing : against the background of the image of living nature, surrounded by plants, animals, etc. - a mental introvert.

3. Gaptic pattern: image of yourself in a state of suasion, often in a state of illness ("sore tooth", "headache", etc.); according to Jung - sensory introvert.

4. Emphatic figure: image of yourself in any emotional atmosphere coming from outside - sensory extravert.

5. Decorative drawing: the image of the portrait in a clearly embellished form, in a beautiful frame, with the presence of flowers and other decor - a sensory extravert.

6. Imaginary drawing: the image of yourself in the form of a character from a literary and artistic work, as well as created in your own image, is an emotional introvert.

7. Rhythmic pattern: an image in which motion is emphasized, i.e. image of a moving person (walking, running on a ladder, etc.). According to Jung - an intuitive extravert.

8. Structural drawing: image of yourself as is - head, arms, legs, etc., can be depicted one person, bust, can be an image in full growth. According to Jung - an intuitive introvert.

Generalized data on the figures, presented in Table. 4.3, allow to judge the dominance of a particular type of image in the surveyed group.

Table 4.3

The ratio of individual - typological characteristics of the test "Self-portrait" (in a group of 500 people)

View of the image by G. Reed

Psychological type according to CG Jung

The aspect ratio of the image,%


Thoughtful extrovert

2, 4


Thoughtful introvert

30, 3


Sensing extrovert

3, 2


Sensing introvert

2, 2


Sensing extrovert

8, 8


Sensitive introvert

13, 2


Intuitive extrovert

20, 8


Intuitive introvert

19, 1

For a fuller interpretation of the test, further work is needed to compare the indicators detected in the processing of the figure with the indicators of other techniques and observation data. However, already at this preliminary stage it is possible to use the authoritative psychological typology of CG Jung.

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