open science

Measuring art:
Methodical development and validation of RizbA, a quantitative rating instrument for formal picture analysis

PhD project at Witten/Herdecke University, Faculty of Health, Department Psychology and Psychotherapy

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Thomas Ostermann, Witten/Herdecke University, Faculty of Health, Department Psychology and Psychotherapy, Chair of research methods and statistics

Alumna of Open Science Fellows Program by Wikimedia Deutschland, Stifterverband, Volkswagenstiftung

an art book on a stool in a studio with  walls and floor, next to it a white canvas

Art therapy assumes that art work is related to its creator’s inner representations. This refers to differential as well as clinical constructs. Quantitatively, this hypothesis has not been proven yet because reliable instruments are rare.

In science and art, picture analysis of art works is usually conducted by using qualitative methods. This work breaks with this tradition and combines image studies with quantitative psychometric methods. For this reason the Rating instrument for two-dimensional pictorial works (RizbA) was developed. It is a 26 items questionnaire, measuring picotorial expression and including aspects of a formal picture analysis like representation, color, shape, space, movement, composition and expression.

So far, two validation studies have been conducted on pictorial material created by amateurs. The second of these two will be published soon.

The test’s capacity of differentiation yielded medium to high capacity of discrimination between pictures (partial eta-squared η2 = .275 to .879) and a high inter-rater reliability (ICC = .525 to .917). Test-retest-reliability is r = .919 resp. r = .934. A third study, validating RizbA on contemporary art has been conducted, analyzed and published soon including Open Data and Open Methdology. Although a conclusion on the factors structure cannot be drawn yet, results are promising, when it comes to validity and reliability. The three studies indicate generalizability of the questionnaire to both amateurs works and contemporary artworks.

As a reliable, objective tool of measurement RizbA opens up new perspectives. It offers the methodical basis for an objective measurement of artworks and facilitates new transdiciplinary approaches of research in art science, art therapy, aesthetics and psychology. Perspectively for further validation, confirmatory factor analyses and machine learning approaches are planned.

download RizbA

In terms of Open Science the current version of the RizbA questionnaire in German language is freely available for research and documentation. The paper-pencil-version is available via Zenodo. I’m looking forward to your feedback!


In the near future I’m planning a study on creating an English version of RizbA to make it applicable to more researchers and practicioners. If you are a native speaking researcher interested in collaborating, please contact me.


  • Schoch, K. (In press). Psychotrauma und transkulturelle Unterschiede in Bildern: Ein quantitatives Ratinginstrument für zweidimensionale bildnerische Arbeiten (RizbA) [Psychotrauma and transcultural differences in pictures: A quantitative rating instrument for two-dimensional pictorial works (RizbA)]. Conference transcript, Art therapy and migration: 1st symposium of the work group intercultural art therapy (AGIK), Alice-Salomon-Hochschule – University of Applied Sciences Berlin, 2018.
  • Schoch, K. (In press). Psyche, Kreativität und Bildlicher Ausdruck: Ein quantitatives Ratinginstrument zur Formalen Bildanalyse (RizbA) [Mind, creativity and pictorial expression: A quantitative rating instrument for formal picture analysis (RizbA)]. Conference transcript, Psychodynamics of creative work – Arts Therapies in clinical fields of work, Annual conference of the international society for art, creation and therapy (IGKGT), Sigmund Freud private university Berlin, 2018.
  • Schoch, K. & Schulze-Stampa, C. (Eds.) (In press). In/ter/ven/tion: in mit durch Kunst [In/ter/ven/tion: in with through art]. Publikation series art + research, No. 5. Ottersberg: HKS – University of Applied sciences and arts in Ottersberg.
  • Schoch, K. (2018). Jenseits von gut und schön: Entwicklung eines quantitativen Ratinginstruments für zweidimensionale bildnerische Arbeiten (RizbA) [Beyond good and beautiful: Development of a quantitative rating instrument for two-dimensional pictorial works (RizbA)]. Musik-, Tanz- und Kunsttherapie: Zeitschrift für Künstlerische Therapien im Bildungs-, Sozial- und Gesundheitswesen, 28(2), 131-138
  • Schoch, K., Gruber, H. & Ostermann, T. (2017). Measuring art: Methodical development of a quantitative rating instrument measuring pictorial expression (RizbA). The Arts in Psychotherapy, 55, 73-79.
  • Schoch, K. (2014, February 25). Ratinginstrument für zweidimensionale bildnerische Arbeiten: Methodische Arbeit zur Entwicklung eines psychologischen Tests zur Erfassung von bildnerischem Ausdruck [Rating instrument for two-dimensional pictorial works: Methodical development of a psychological test measuring pictorial expression]. University of Mannheim. Zenodo.

futher studies on RizbA

  • Epstein, Clara. (2019, March 22). Bildlicher Ausdruck von Depression: Erprobung des Ratinginstruments RizbA an Bildstichproben aus dem klinischen Kunsttherapiesetting [Pictorial expression of depression: Testing the ratinginstrument RizbA on image samples from a clinical art therapy setting]. Zenodo.
  • Janßen, B. (2018, August 13). Erprobung des Ratinginstruments für zweidimensionale bildnerische Arbeiten (RizbA): Pilotstudie zur Untersuchung des bildlichen Ausdrucks in gemalten Bildern von Menschen mit chronischer Schmerzsymptomatik [Testing the rating instrument for two-dimensional pictorial works (RizbA): Pilot study for investigating pictorial expression in pictures painted by people with chronic pain symptoms]. Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen, Otterberg. Zenodo.

Articles (preprint or manuscript), posters and other materials regarding RizbA are freely available at Zenodo.


Open Science Radio Episode 173 (German)
Art und therapy, art science and psychology
27th June 2019


Kerstin Schoch
Art therapist, Psychologist
Institute for Art Therapy and Research
HKS – University of applied sciences and arts in Ottersberg
Am Wiestebruch 68, 28870 Ottersberg
My research on Wikiversity and Twitter.

Current information about my research can be found at my Blog. If you want to stay up to date, please enroll for my Newsletter.