Family figure matching test: what it is and how is it used

Impulsivity is a characteristic found in several disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In this article we will talk about the family figure matching test, A test to assess the cognitive reflexivity-impulsivity style in children and adolescents.

Kagan started talking about the reflexivity-impulsivity style in 1965. The test is based on subject errors and response latency (response time). Let’s find out all its details and what it is used for.

    Matching test of family figures: characteristics

    The Family Matching Figures Test (MFFT) was developed by ED Cairns and J. Cammock, although Kagan was the first to speak in 1965 about the cognitive style of reflexivity-impulsivity. the MFFT assesses this style in children and adolescents.

    The reflective-impulsive style is a continuum with two opposing poles at its ends: thinking and impulsiveness. Between the two poles, the number of errors made by the subject (ranging from imprecision to precision) as well as the response latencies (from the speed of slowness) will oscillate.

    What does the test consist of?

    The family figure mating test is a perceptual mating test. It consists of 12 articles or essays. Each is characterized by the simultaneous presence of a drawing model familiar to the child (eg glasses, bear, …) and six different options thereof.

    The comparison stimuli are different from each other and compared to the model only in small details. Only one option is equal to the model. The subject must choose the one that is identical to the one in the drawing (You have six opportunities for each item). In case of error, the correct answer is given to the subject and the next element is passed.

      What is recorded?

      During the administration of the test, the following elements are recorded: average response latency and response accuracy (number of errors made). like that, a short response latency pattern, coupled with a high error rate, indicates impulsivity.

      Thus, the variables that serve to operationalize the reflexivity-impulsivity style are those mentioned: the number of errors and the response latency in tasks with uncertainty.

      Technical characteristics

      The scope of the test is for children 6 to 12 years old. It is intended for individual application, lasting 15 to 20 minutes. It is scaled in samples differentiated by sex and age. The material to be used is a notebook with the elements, a sheet of notes, a pencil and a stopwatch.

      There are authors who question the reliability and lack of appropriate standards for adolescents. In addition to the original form, there is a longer one, with 20 articles (MFFT 20), also developed by Cairns and Cammock.

      Reflexivity-impulsivity style

      As we have seen, the Family Figure Matching Test aims to assess this cognitive style, defined by Kagan in the 1960s.

      According to Kagan, this style refers to the characteristic way in which a child is confronted with tasks defined by uncertaintyThat is, by the presence of several response alternatives, one of which is correct. Let’s see what each pole of this style consists of:

      1. Reflective style

      The person with a thoughtful style, it will take more time to respond and make less mistakes.

      2. Impulsive style

      The impulsive style is characterized by low response latency (takes little time to respond) and a high number of errors.

      Types of topics

      On the other hand, according to Servera (1992), one third of the subjects that make up the sample used in reflexivity-impulsivity research, consists of two types of subjects (which also form opposite poles):

      1. Effective subjects

      These are subjects who invest little time in the task and make few mistakes.


      They take a long time to respond and yet they make many mistakes.

      Areas he explores

      In addition to the cognitive styles discussed at a general level, at a more specific level, the family figure matching test explores the analysis of visual patterns and the subject’s attention to detail, In addition to inhibiting impulse responses.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Soprano, A. (2003). Assessment of executive functions in children. Journal of Neurology, 37 (1), 44-50.
      • Cairns, I. and Cammock, J. (2005). Known Figures Correspondence Test Manual-20. Applied psychology publications. TEA editions: Madrid

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