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Social Processes: Methodology · Types of test

The Incomplete pictures test (or Gollin figure test was developed by E. S. Gollin in 1960[1]. It is a psychological test used to assess implicit and explicit memory. Subjects are shown a series of drawings in a sequence, from least to most clear, and asked to identify the image. The object cannot possibly be identified in the first sketch, and most people must see several of the panels before they can identify it. On a retention test some time later, however, subjects identify the image sooner than they did on the first test, indicating some form of memory for the image. Amnesiac subjects also show improvement on this test, even though they do not recall taking the test before.[2]


The test consists of 5 sets of fragmented drawings. Each set includes drawings of the same 20 objects but they differ in their degree in sketchiness.[3] Set 1 contains the most fragmented drawings and Set 5 the most complete drawings.


The subject is asked to identify the 20 objects from the most indistinct set - Set 1. Then for those they do not recognise, they are presented with those pictures from Set 2. For those not recognised in this trial they go onto stimuli taken from Set 3 and so on until all the objects have been identified.


  1. Gollin E. S. (1960) Developmental studies of visual recognition of incomplete objects. Perceptual Motor Skills, 11, 289-298.
  2. B., Kolb & I. Q., Wishaw (2004). An Introduction to Brain and Behaviour (2nd ed).
  3. Pinel, J. P. J. (2000). Biopsychology. Needham Hieghts MA:Allyn & Bacon

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