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Psychological Assessment Projective Personality Tests Projective Tests: Essential Features Individuals must impose their own structure which is meaningful Stimulus material is unstructured Indirect (disguised) method Freedom of response Interpretation is broad Projective Tests

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Psychological assessment l.jpg

Psychological Assessment

Projective Personality Tests

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Projective Tests: Essential Features

  • Individuals must impose their own structure which is meaningful

  • Stimulus material is unstructured

  • Indirect (disguised) method

  • Freedom of response

  • Interpretation is broad

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Projective Tests

  • Rorschach Inkblot Test

  • Thematic Apperception Test

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Rorschach Inkblot Test

  • Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922)

  • Nicknamed “Kleck” or inkblot

  • Talented art student who decided to study science

  • Dream convinced him of relationship between perception and unconscious

  • 1921 published Psychodiagnostik

  • Died in 1922

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Rorschach: Historical

5 Scoring Systems

  • Adopted by 5 American psychologists with very different theoretical backgrounds

  • Shared common features (same blots were used, response phase followed by inquiry)

  • 5 different systems of administration, scoring and interpretation emerged

  • Two most popular (Beck, Klopf)

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Rorschach: Validity and Reliability

Poor psychometric reputation:

  • Lack of standardized rules for administration and scoring

  • Poor inter-rater reliability

  • Lack of adequate norms

  • Unknown or weak validity

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Rorschach: Contemporary Use

  • John Exner

  • Established Rorschach Research Foundation in 1986

  • Integrated five scoring and interpretation systems

  • Established empirical support for new system

  • Provide a center for training

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Association Phase

What might this be?

Present all the cards

Record response verbatim

Note location of response

Inquiry Phase

I want you to help me see what you saw. I’m going to read what you said, and then I want you to show me where on the blot you saw it and what there is there that makes it look like that so that I can see it too. I’d like to see it just like you did, so help me now.

Contemporary Use: Administration

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Rorschach Inkblot Test

  • A psychometrically sound test?

  • An in-class exercise

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Contemporary Use: Scoring

Exner scoring system: The Structural Summary


  • Location (W, D, Dd)

  • Use of white space (S)


  • Form (good, poor, bad quality)

  • Movement (active and passive)

  • Color

  • Texture

  • Shading

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Rorschach Inkblot Test

  • A psychometrically sound test?

  • Particularly useful in assessing thought processes

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Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

  • Developed by Henry Murray and colleagues at Harvard Psychological Clinic

  • 31 TAT cards depicting people in a variety of ambiguous situations (one blank card)

  • Examinee is asked to create a story about each picture

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TAT: Administration

  • Now I want you to make up a story about each of these pictures. Tell me who the people are, what they are doing, what they are thinking or feeling, what led up to the scene, and how it will turn out.

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TAT: Scoring/Interpretation

  • Content analysis of themes that emerge from the stories

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TAT: Psychometric Critique

  • Selection of cards is not standardized

  • Lack of norms

  • Clinicians rely on qualitative impressions

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Thematic Apperception Test

Used to assess:

  • Locus of problems

  • Nature of needs

  • Quality of interpersonal relationships

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Psychological Assessment cont.

Objective Personality Testing

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What is Personality?

  • characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling,and acting

  • emerges in informal, familiar situations in which we feel unconstrained

  • principle of aggregation –

    • personality is the sum of the best descriptors and predictors of our actions over time in a number of situations

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    Objective Personality Tests

    Material Covered

    • 4 major approaches to test construction

    • Examples of test based on first three test construction procedures

    • Use of personality tests in modern clinical practice

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    Characteristics Objective Personality Tests

    • Standard set of questions

      • Standardization as a concept: given to large #'s of people--yield norms to which an individual's scores can be compared

      • Norms are defined as a set of scores from a large group of people who have completed the measure.

    • Fixed response options

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    Objective Personality Tests: Advantages

    • Individual or groups (economical)

    • Administration is simple/objective

    • Scoring is simple/objective

    • Interpretation of results requires less interpretative skill than projective tests

    • Apparent increased objectivity and reliability

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    Objective Personality Tests: Disadvantages

    • Items limited to behavior

    • Single overall score

    • Transparent meaning of items

    • Forced choice approach

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    Test Construction Approaches

    • Logical or content validation

    • Empirical Criterion Keying (MMPI)

    • Factor Analysis (NEO Personality Inventory)

    • Construct Validity (Combines all of the above)

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    Approaches to Test Construction: Content Validation

    • Defining all aspects of the construct

    • Consulting experts about the constructs

    • Having expert judges assess each potential item

    • Perform psychometric analyses of items

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    Content Validation: An Example

    Goal: Construct a test designed to measure attitudes toward school

    Answer true or false

    • I enjoy getting up in the morning for school

    • I like my teacher(s)

    • I enjoy seeing my friends at school

    • I enjoy the subjects I learn about at school

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    Face validity with test takers


    Easy to fake good or bad

    Content Validation: Advantages and Disadvantages

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    Content Validation: The Mooney Problem Checklist

    Assesses emotional functioning in the following areas:

    • Home and family

    • Interpersonal relationships

    • Courtship and marriage

    • Morals an religion

    • School/occupation

    • Economic security

    • social skills and recreation

    • Health and physical development

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    Approaches to Test Construction: Empirical Keying

    • Create test items to measure one or more traits

    • Administer test items to a “criterion” and “control” group

    • Select items that distinguish between these two groups

    • Content of the item is not considered important

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    Empirical Keying: Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory (MMPI)

    • Developed in 1930’s

    • Starke Hathaway Ph.D. & J. Charnley McKinley, MD.

    • Needed test to identify diagnosis

    • Developed an item pool

    • Identified a group of patients and nonpatients

    • Resulting scale of 550 items (true/false/cannot say)

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    MMPI Clinical Scales

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    MMPI: Validity Scales

    ? (Cannot say)

    • Unanswered items

      L (Lie)

    • Faking good

      F (Infrequency)

    • Faking bad

      K (Defensiveness)

    • Defensiveness in admitting to problems

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    Interpreting MMPI

    • Validity Scales

    • Single scales

    • Profile analysis

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    MMPI: Shortcomings

    • Unrepresentative normative sample

    • Language of items was outdated (including sexist language)

    • Inadequately addressed difficulties such as suicide or drug use

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    MMPI: Revision

    • Assembled team of MMPI experts

    • Rewrote some items

    • Added new items

    • Administered new item pool (n=704) to a standardization sample (representative)

    • Retained 567 items from the item pool

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    Continued problems

    • failure of some items to reliably discriminate between groups

    • dimensions based on pre-conceived theory about structure of personality,

    • scales correlate highly and thus provide redundant information

    • they are highly influenced by state at the time of taking, and the test and re-test stability may therefore be lower than desired (a problem for many/most trait measures)

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    Health Concerns

    Bizarre Thoughts



    Antisocial Practices

    Type A

    Low Self-Esteem

    Social Discomfort

    Family Problems

    Work Interference

    Negative Treatment Indicators

    MMPI-2 Content Scales

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    Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI):

    • more useful than the MMPI-2 for diagnosis

    • The purpose of the MCMI is to help the clinician make a diagnosis of personality disorder.

      • These disorders are pervasive and stable patterns of maladaptive behavior that are deeply ingrained and influence the individual's thinking, feeling, and acting in a wide range of situations.

    • The MCMI is primarily used for clinical populations; it is not intended for normal subjects.

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    Approaches to Test Construction: Factor Analysis (Internal Consistency)

    • Correlational technique used to determine whether a group of items are correlated with one another

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    Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R)

    • Based on five factor model of personality (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness)

    • Name derived from initials of the first three traits

    • Assesses all five traits

    • Emphasizes assessment of normal personality style rather than psychopathology

    • Parallel forms

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    The Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP)

    • a factor-analytically derived instrument designed to assess traits important in personality disorders

    • 15 scales:

      • 12 trait scales assess specific or primary traits and

      • 3 temperament scales measure more general affective traits.

    • 5 validity scales plus an overall validity index

    • items to assess the personality disorder criteria in the DSM

    • follows the three-factor model of personality

      • Neuroticism/Negative Emotionality, Extraversion/Positive Emotionality, and Disinhibition vs. Constraint.

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    Approaches to Test Construction: Construct Validity

    • Combines aspects of content validity, empirical criterion keying and factor analytic approaches in developing assessment devises (Clark and Watson, 1995)

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    The Place of Personality Assessment in Contemporary Clinical Psychology


    Why do we use these tests?

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    Psychological Assessment: Purpose (Textbook Response)

    • Classification (diagnosis)

    • Description

    • Prediction

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    • Results from psychological testing assists in making a diagnosis

    • Critics of psych testing- tests are not reliable or valid diagnostic instruments

    • Defenders: test information is used in conjunction with other clinical data

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    Testing provides a time efficient means of developing a broader understanding of the patient.

    Dependent Depressed Client

    Narcissistic Depressed


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    Test findings can be used to make predictions about behavior

    • Whether client will benefit from psychotherapy

    • What type of psychotherapy would be best

    • Suicidal risk

    • Risk for violence

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    The Place of Personality Assessment in Contemporary Clinical Psychology


    Why do we use these tests?

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    Psychological Assessment: Purpose: Typical Referral Question

    • Please evaluate for organic brain damage (patient has history of polysubstance abuse) and evaluate for psychotic thinking

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    Evidence of Organic Damage

    Weschler Memory Scale

    Trail Making Test

    Rey-Osterieth Complex Figure Test

    Benton Test of Visual Memory

    Evidence of Psychotic Thought



    Beck Depression Inventory

    Tests Administered

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    Interpretation of Results

    • Normal performance on tests of memory, concentration and attention

    • Personality testing suggested the primary etiological role of emotional turmoil.

    • Presence of both acute distress and chronic characterological problems.

    • Acute distress: severe depression and a risk for suicide

    • Reality testing in the normal range

    • Significant ego regression when faced with affective arousal was noted.

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    Projective and Objective Personality Tests: Incremental Validity

    • Degree to which assessment increases prediction based on base rates (prevalence) or other sources

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    Incremental Validity: Current Findings

    • Tentative support for the incremental validity of the MMPI-2 scales in prediction of personality disorder, aggression, and differentiation between depressed patients and substance abuse patients

    • NEO-PI-R: personality disorder, maternal responsiveness to infants and violence

    • Rorschach: thought disorder but not other scores

    • TAT: not adequately investigated

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    Objective Tests: Summary

    Material Covered

    • 4 major approaches to test construction

    • Examples of test based on first three test construction procedures

    • Use of personality tests in modern clinical practice

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