American Psychologist



  • Normal School in Millersville, Pennsylvania (B.Pd. [Bachelor of Pedagogy], 1908)
  • Columbia University in New York (B.S., 1920; M.A., 1921) – Under Leta Hollingworth
  • Stanford University (Ph.D., 1924) – Under Lewis Terman


  • Teacher (1908-1920)
  • Director of Research in the Rutherford and Perth Amboy, New Jersey, public schools (1920-1921)
  • Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic (1924-1925)
  • Institute of Child Welfare at University of Minnesota, Professor (1925-1947)
  • Professor Emeritus (1947-1959)

Major Contribution

  • Developed Goodenough Draw-A-Man and Minnesota Preschool Scale tests, as well as several other alternative tests of intelligence
  • Published 9 textbooks, 26 research studies, numerous articles, and wrote Handbook of Child Psychology
  • Key researcher in Terman’s longitudinal study on giftedness

Ideas and Interests

Florence Goodenough spent a good portion of her intellectual life developing tools for assessing intelligence in young children. She strongly believed that IQ could be reliably measured with significant stability for most preschoolers. In 1926, she introduced her Draw-a-Man test in a book entitled Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings (1926). This nonverbal test of intelligence was intended for children aged two to thirteen and required children to draw a picture of a man. Although the test only took about ten minutes to administer (significantly less time than other nonverbal tests of the time), it was highly reliable and it correlated well with standard IQ tests of the time. The Draw-a-Man test gained immediate popularity and even twenty years after its introduction it was listed as the third most frequently used test by clinical psychologists. The test was revised in the late 1940s with the assistance of Dale Harris and is now known as the Goodenough-Harris drawing test. The revised test featured a new standardization, a drawing quality score, and the Draw-a-Woman test.

After developing the Draw-a-Man test and focusing on nonverbal tests of intelligence, Goodenough shifted her attention to more traditional verbal tests of intelligence for children. She was particularly interested in developing a new assessment tool , based on the Stanford Binet test, which could be administered to younger children. The new scale, the Minnesota Preschool Scale, contained both language and nonlanguage scores and was compact and inexpensive. Although not as well-known as the Draw-a-Man test, the Minnesota Preschool Scale was being used into the 1940s.

Aside from developing tools for assessing intelligence, Goodenough was also one of the first individuals to question the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ). She contended that mental age may not have the same meaning for all children and that a better way of reporting results was in the form of percentages. She claimed that percentages, in addition to being more easily understood by lay people, were more useful because they would allow comparison between children who were the same chronological age.

Although her position on the use of the ratio IQ may seem controversial, Goodenough confronted the most controversy of her career by taking a strong position on the classic nature vs. nurture debate surrounding intelligence. Goodenough maintained that intelligence is a stable entity and challenged the assertion that the environment plays a key role in children’s intelligence scores.


  • The Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings (1926)
  • The Stanford Achievement Test (1923)
  • Genetic Studies of Genius (1925, 1947, 1959)
  • Mental Testing: Its History, Principles, and Applications (1949)
  • Exceptional Children (1956)

References: 20