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The Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test or simply the Bender-Gestalt test is a psychological test first developed by child neuropsychiatrist Lauretta Bender. The test is used to evaluate "visual-motor maturity", to screen for developmental disorders, or to assess neurological function or brain damage.
The test consists of nine figures, each on its own 3 × 5 card. The subject is shown each figure and asked to copy it onto a piece of blank paper. The test typically takes 10-20 minutes, after which the results are scored based on accuracy and other characteristics.
Bender first described her Visual Motor Gestalt Test in an 1938 monograph entitled: A Visual Motor Gestalt Test and Its Clinical Use. The figures were derived from the work of the famous Gestalt psychologist Wertheimer. The Bender-Gestalt test as it is now often called, is typically among the top five tests used by clinical psychologists. It measures perceptual motor skills, perceptual motor development and gives an indication of neurological intactness. It has been used as a personality test and a test of emotional problems.
There are a variety of scoring systems for the test:
- Elizabeth M. Koppitz's system for Children (1963)
- Pascal & Suttell system for Adults (1951);
- Hutt & Briskin Projective personality feature system (1960);
- Arthur Canter's Background Interference Procedure (BIP) test for organicty (1976)
The test has been used as a screening device for brain damage. Bender herself said it was "a method of evaluating maturation of gestalt functioning children 4-11's brain functioning by which it responds to a given constellation of stimuli as a whole, the response being a motor process of patterning the perceived gestalt."
Originally published by the American Orthopsychiatric Association, it was purchased in the 1990s by Riverside Publishing company and released with a revised qualitative scoring system as the Bender-II. The Bender-II contains 16 figures versus 9 in the original. The new or revised scoring system for the Bender-II was but tangentially related to Bender's original scoring method and instead was a revision of a system devised by Branigan in the 1980s. Elizabeth Koppitz, a clinical child psychologist and school psychologist (who worked most of her career in the Mount Cisco schools in New York), developed a scoring system in the 1960s devoted to assessing the maturation of visual-motor skills in children, remaining true to Bender's aim for the test, and popularized its use in the schools. For decades, the Koppitz version, known as the Bender-Gestalt Test for Young Children, was one of the most freequently administered psychologial tests in the United States and many believe throughout the world. After Koppitz' death in the early 1980s the use of the method held its popularity until the mid1990s when it was withdrawn from the market as a result of publishing company consolidations.
Steve Mathews and Cecil Reynolds (a friend of Koppitz for some years near the end of her life)were eventually able to locate the publishing rights to the Koppitz version of the Bender-Gestalt, and these rights were subsequently acquired by Pro-Ed Publishing Company of Austin Texas, who then retained Cecil Reynolds to revise the Koppitz version. It was released under Reynolds' authorship in 2007 by Pro-Ed as the Koppitz-2: The Koppitz Developmental Scoring System for the Bender-Gestalt Test. A portion of the proceeds of all sales of the Koppitz-2 go to the American Psychological Foundation to support the Koppitz scholarships in child clinical psychology.
- Bender, L. (1938). A visual-motor Gestalt test and its clinical use. American Orthopsychiatric Association Monograph Series Number 3. NY: American Orthopsychiatric Association.
- Reynolds, C. R. (2007). Koppitz-2: The Koppitz Developmental Scoring System for the Bender-Gestalt Test. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed Inc.
- Health A to Z article on Bender-Gestalt Test
- Summary of the test and some of the research supporting it.
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