Baum test

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Baum test (also known as the "Tree test" or the "Koch test") is a projective test that is used extensively by psychologists around the world.[1]"Baum" is the German word for the tree. It reflects an individual's personality and their underlying emotions by drawing a tree then analyzing it. [2]


In 1952, Karl Koch interpreted patterns according to principles of handwriting analysis after asking the subject to draw a tree. He attributed the method to Emil Jucker, who clinically analyses the forms of trees.[3] The contents it analyzed include the size of trees, the elements of trees (trunk, crown, branches), the ground and the prosperity of trees. Baum test is used as a clinical method for personality test and expressing conflicts, especially for assessing personality in the developmental age.[4] Nowadays, Baum test is also used in clinical research like diagnosing cognitive disorder.[5][6]


The first step is to let participant draw a tree on a paper. In some cases, participants are also asked to write a short essay about the drawn tree.[7] A psychologist or a psychiatrist will then evaluate the various aspects of the drawing as well as the individual's behavior /comments while completing the test. The evaluation is based on standard criteria and scored from "very immature" to "very mature" while the essay is graded from advanced, normal, and backwards.[7]


It is suggested by J.H. Plokker that the type of tree an individual draws relates to the structure of the psyche or unconscious itself or that it symbolizes one's personality as it can project self-image.[8]

According to Koch and Jucker, they focus on interpreting parts of trees. Here is the analysis raised by them:[2]

  • Large Baum: indicates self-confidence
  • Small Baum: indicates a lack of self-confidence
  • Big trunk: indicates straightforwardness and liveliness
  • Small trunk: indicates weariness
  • Deep Roots: indicates stability
  • No/shallow roots: indicates a feeling of exclusion
  • Big Branches: indicates arrogance
  • No/small branches: indicates unsocial behavior
  • Large Leaves: indicates friendliness, social ability
  • Small Leaves: indicates shyness

Forms of analysis[edit]

Two forms of analysis are used to evaluate and interpret the Baum test.

  1. The global structure analysis sees the tree as a whole,for example, the tree's overall size and location on the paper.
  2. The internal structure which raised by Emil Jucker, focuses on analysis finer details of the tree.[3] There are 59 detail oriented aspects of the tree drawing that are used to evaluate an individual's thoughts or feelings including roots, trunk, branches, crown, leaves, knots, shading, symmetry, archetypal features etc.

Research and applications[edit]

Uses in Cross-cultural psychology[edit]

Since drawing is nonverbal character, it has effectively overcome the language barriers in different countries. In 1966, Dennis analyzed children’s drawing s and found that they are great indicators of group values and cognitive functioning.[9] Though familiarity is a factor children choose to depict, they would also draw things they valued (wishes and desires). He concluded that drawing as a projective technique provides children with a good opportunity to express their personal feelings and their attitudes towards others and environment. Research conducted in 2007 encouraged people who work with young people to use drawing as a child-centered procedure and evaluation tool, though during the process of interpretation expect a level of subjectivity.[10]

Uses in personality psychology[edit]

This projective test is also used for reflecting human personality constructs, while it is an introspective, self-report questionnaire. It represents the unconsciousness of personality and the assessment by responding to a stimulus(drawing the tree). According to Ursula, the size of the tree and the width of the trunk symbolize "a sense of self-expression and the amount of mental energy".[11] The position of a tree symbolizes "how one perceives and relates to the mental space and time in which one lives."

Uses in diagnosis of mental disorders[edit]

There are many conducted research provides evidence of the Baum test. Roberto and his colleagues researched the Baum test with a group of mild cognitively impaired (MCI) patients and controls.[5] By comparing their tree-drawing test with the control groups, they found that the trunk-to-crown ratio of trees drawn by MCI is greater than controls, while their size of trees is significantly smaller than controls. This indicates its inverse relationship with the ability to use language, which also supported by previous studies.[12] One research on Alzheimer's disease also shown the difference in drawing patterns.[6] By founding the MCI drawn trees are different from those drawn by healthy subjects with a progressive differentiation from degrees of cognitive impairment, it suggests the Baum test could help make diagnosis of cognitive related diseases.

Another recent implication of Baum test is for diagnosing depression disorders.[13] It has found statistical significance difference in canopy widths. Besides, it could help to find the characteristics of eating disorders.[14] Researcher measured the height and width of the trunk and the crown and details of how drawings were processed.

Advantages and limitations[edit]

The advantages of the Baum test are that it can be administered quickly ( 5–10 minutes), is suitable for both individual and group tests, and it offers the clinician an opportunity to observe the patients motor skills.[2]

Besides, as a nonverbal tool for psychodiagnosis, it provides personality information for psychotherapy while not easy to cause trauma to the subject.

However, researchers have pointed out that like other projective test, the Baum test lacks scientific evidence of supporting its analysis. The methods of analysis depend on individual subjective judgement. Additionally, the test is typically not used on patients with very low IQs because their drawings tend to be quite meager.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stevens, Michael; Wedding, Danny (2005). The Handbook of International Psychology. Routledge. ISBN 9781135941093.
  2. ^ a b c Koch, Karl (2000). Der Baumtest: der Baumzeichenversuch als psychodiagnostisches Hilfsmittel (10. Aufl., unveränd. Nachdr. d. 9., korr. Aufl. ed.). Huber. ISBN 978-3-456-83519-8.
  3. ^ a b Corsini, Raymond J. (2001). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science. Vol. 2 (Third ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 695. ISBN 0471240974.
  4. ^ Koch, C. (1952). The Tree Test; the tree-drawing test as an aid in psychodiagnosis. Grune & Stratton.
  5. ^ a b Stanzani Maserati, Michelangelo; Matacena, Corrado; Sambati, Luisa; Oppi, Federico; Poda, Roberto; De Matteis, Maddalena; Gallassi, Roberto (2015). "The Tree-Drawing Test (Koch's Baum Test): A Useful Aid to Diagnose Cognitive Impairment". Behavioural Neurology. 2015: 534681. doi:10.1155/2015/534681. PMC 4484840. PMID 26175548.
  6. ^ a b Stanzani Maserati, Michelangelo; Matacena, Marialaura; Baccari, Flavia; Zenesini, Corrado; Gallassi, Roberto; Capellari, Sabina; Matacena, Corrado (2022). "The Tree Drawing Test in Evolution: An Explorative Longitudinal Study in Alzheimer's Disease". American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias. 37. doi:10.1177/15333175221129381. PMID 36317413. S2CID 253245473.
  7. ^ a b Vogel, Friedrich (2000). Genetics and the Electroencephalogram. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. p. 156. ISBN 9783540655732.
  8. ^ Allen, Rupert C. (2014-02-20). Psyche and Symbol in the Theater of Federico Garcia Lorca: Perlimplin, Yerma, Blood Wedding. University of Texas Press. doi:10.7560/764187. ISBN 978-0-292-76223-7.
  9. ^ Dennis, Wayne (1966). Group values through children's drawings. New York: Wiley. OCLC 224203.
  10. ^ MacPhail, Ann; Kinchin, Gary (2004-05-01). "The use of drawings as an evaluative tool: students' experiences of sport education". Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy. 9 (1): 87–108. doi:10.1080/1740898042000208142. S2CID 146479899.
  11. ^ Avé-Lallemant, Ursula (2002). Baum-Tests: Mit einer Einführung in die symbolische und graphologische Interpretation. München: E. Reinhardt. OCLC 79882803.
  12. ^ Inadomi, Hiroyuki; Tanaka, Goro; Ohta, Yasuyuki (2003). "Characteristics of trees drawn by patients with paranoid schizophrenia". Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 57 (4): 347–351. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1819.2003.01130.x. PMID 12839513. S2CID 22583156.
  13. ^ Gu, Simeng; Liu, Yige; Liang, Fei; Feng, Rou; Li, Yawen; Liu, Guorui; Gao, Mengdan; Liu, Wei; Wang, Fushun; Huang, Jason H. (2020). "Screening Depressive Disorders with Tree-Drawing Test". Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 1446. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01446. PMC 7330083. PMID 32670166.
  14. ^ Mizuta, Ichiro; Inoue, Yoichi; Fukunaga, Tomoko; Ishi, Ryohei; Ogawa, Asao; Takeda, Masatoshi (2002). "Psychological characteristics of eating disorders as evidenced by the combined administration of questionnaires and two projective methods: the Tree Drawing Test (Baum Test) and the Sentence Completion Test". Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 56 (1): 41–53. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1819.2002.00928.x. PMID 11929570. S2CID 24272273.
  15. ^ Goodenough, F.L. (1926). Measurement of intelligence by drawings. World Book Co.

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