Florence L. Goodenough

Researched and written by:  Nakeyva Brice
I attest that the following biography is a product of my own original work..

I am a psychologist, not a woman psychologist.” (Thompson, 1990).


Florence L. Goodenough was born on August 6th, 1886 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania and was the youngest of nine siblings. She was home schooled to what is comparable to a high school degree. Florence devoted her life to her work and as a result she never married or had any children (Weiss, 2005). She was also an educated lover of birds, music, flowers and she was an amateur photographer. Goodenough died on April 4th, 1959 in her sister’s home in Florida (Harris, 1959). Unfortunately, this is all the information available about her childhood, family and adult life.

Professional Accomplishments

 In 1908, Florence graduated from the Millersville Pennsylvania Normal School with a B.Pd. which is a Bachelor of Pedagogy. Florence also earned her B.S. from Columbia University in 1920 and in 1921 she received her M.A. from Columbia also where she studied under psychologist Leta Hollingsworth.

While at Columbia from 1919 to 1921, she was the director of research for Rutherford and Perth Amboy, New Jersey public school systems. This position would be considered a school psychologist today. This was also where she collected children’s drawings as data for her first research experiments (Harris, 1959).

In 1921, she worked with Lewis Terman at Stanford University. During this time Terman was working on the Stanford-Binet I.Q. for children, and Florence was involved with studies about gifted children under Terman’s instruction.

Later Florence relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1924 to work in the Minneapolis Child Guidance Clinic. That following year she became an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and by 1931 she had progressed to full professor where she held that position until she retired in 1947. During that time she also taught Ruth Howard who was the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in psychology. Florence also served as the President of the Society for Research in Child Development. She simultaneously served as secretary for the Division on Childhood and Adolescent of the American Psychological Association. She also served in many other positions in the National Council of Women Psychologist. Additionally she was listed in the Watson Directory of Outstanding Contributors to Psychology.

 In 1925, Goodenough was listed as a contributor to Terman’s book Genetic Studies of Genius and she published her first book called the Measurement of Intelligence by Drawings. At this point in time, nonverbal I.Q. tests were low in validity and reliability therefore the data that was collected was not very useful. In addition to that the I.Q. tests were too long to administer. Florence also developed the Draw-A- Man Test for preschoolers and later for older children.


Contributions to Psychology

Florence L. Goodenough had many major contributions to psychology such as, developing the Draw-A-Man Test and the Minnesota Preschool Scale test. When administering the Draw-A-Man test, each child was asked to draw a man and they were given 10 minutes to do so. This test was targeted toward children aged two to thirteen. The test was found to be very reliable and valid for measuring academic success. Goodenough developed extremely strict criteria to rate the test. The Draw-A-Man test was also found to correlate well with written I.Q. tests. Years later the test was renamed the Draw-A-Woman Test because she was ridiculed by some women’s and minority groups because they believed that young girls may not be able to identify with a man (Weiss, 2005).

Goodenough also revised the Standfor-Binet I.Q. test so that it would incorporate younger children and it resulted in the development of the Minnesota Preschool Scale, which had verbal and nonverbal scores. The nonverbal parts of the Minnesota Preschool Scale consisted of pointing out body part, and objects in a picture.

She also developed two types of sampling: time sampling and event sampling. Time sampling is when a participant’s behavior is studies for a period of time and event sampling is when a certain behavior is being observed and counted. These types of sampling were believed to be helpful in studying the natural behavior of humans and animals.
In addition, Florence was the first psychologist to evaluate ratio I.Q., which she did in her book Handbook of Child Psychology, where she argued that the idea of mental age would not have the same meaning fir every child. She suggested that the scores be reported as percentages as to allow a comparison of the same age. She also strongly believed that the environment had a strong impact on children’s intelligence scores.

In sum, Florence L. Goodenough contributed greatly to the filed of psychology, especially child psychology. In all she published nine text books and 26 research articles, and is also responsible for creating some of the most useful I.Q. tests; which have also been used to develop other intelligence test.  




Harris, D. (1959). Florence l goodenough, 1886-1959. Child Development, 30, 305-306

Plucker J. Human intelligence: florence l. goodenough. Retrieved February 23rd, 2005 from

Weiss A. (2005). florence l. goodenough 1886-1959. Retrieved February 25th, 2005from




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