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Projective Tests. William P. Wattles, Ph.D. Francis Marion University. Ambiguous Stimuli. When there is no “correct” answer the individual’s response may be driven by internal conflicts, motives, needs and perceptual press. . The Projective Hypothesis.

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projective tests

Projective Tests

William P. Wattles, Ph.D.

Francis Marion University

ambiguous stimuli
Ambiguous Stimuli
  • When there is no “correct” answer the individual’s response may be driven by internal conflicts, motives, needs and perceptual press.
the projective hypothesis
The Projective Hypothesis
  • Freud originated the idea of projection in 1911
    • Classical projection
    • Defense mechanism to attribute negative personality traits to others.
    • Not fared well in research
projective testing
Projective testing
  • Disciples of projective testing are heavily invested in psychoanalytic theory and its postulation of unconscious aspects of personality.
  • Gregory, R. J. (2004). Psychological Testing: history, principles, and applications. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
need for projectives
Need for projectives
  • Access to peoples attitudes and traits is blocked
    • response factors
    • introspective limits.
  • Generalized or assimilative projection
  • Individuals’ personality characteristics, needs, and life experiences influence their interpretation (apperception) of ambiguous stimuli.
principal advantages
Principal Advantages
  • Projective techniques allow the clinician to:a. bypass conscious defenses

b. obtain access to unconscious information, such as conflicts, impulses, of which clients are not aware

projective drawings
Projective Drawings
  • Projective drawings are expressive techniques in that they suggest aspects of the person while he or she is performing some activity.
  • To obtain an accurate view of a person’s inner world, one must somehow circumvent unconscious defenses and conscious resistances.
  • Stimuli from the environment are organized by a person’s specific needs, motives, and conflicts.
popularity versus validity
Popularity Versus Validity
  • TAT:Controversy regarding reliability and validity is ongoing.
  • Rorschach: Despite initial (and continuing) popularity reviews have been quite critical
  • Drawings: Their use declined in response to poor reviews regarding validity…yet, drawing techniques are still ranked among the ten most frequently used tests.
literature review
Literature Review

Lilienfeld, S. O. , Wood, J. M. and Garb, H. N. (2000). The Scientific Status of Projective Techniques. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 1, 27-66.

  • Projective techniques present a curious discrepancy between research and practice.
  • When evaluated as psychometric instruments, the majority make a poor showing.
  • Yet, their popularity in clinical use continues unabated
  • Because of scoring problems, most projective techniques fail to meet conventional standards of reliability and validity.
  • Aiken, L. R. (2003). Psychological Testing and Measurement, 11th edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • “In general, attempts to validate the H-T-P as a personality measure have failed miserably”
  • “Indeed, the absence of standardized procedures is such that we should rightly regard the TAT as a method not a test.”
  • “the Rorschach has not yet gained the status of scientific respectability enjoyed by many other personality tests, and perhaps it never will.
  • Gregory, R. J. (2004). Psychological Testing: history, principles, and applications. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
the projective paradox
The Projective Paradox
  • “The evidence is quite clear that personality inferences drawn from projective tests are often wrong. In the face of negative validation findings, the enduring practitioner acceptance of the tests constitutes …the projective paradox.
  • Gregory, R. J. (2004). Psychological Testing: history, principles, and applications. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
the projective paradox18
The Projective Paradox

Illusory Validation

  • Clinicians may notice confirming instances and ignore contradictions
the projective paradox19
The Projective Paradox
  • Often may be used only for hypothesis generation.
most frequently used tests
Most frequently used tests
  • WAIS
  • MMPI
  • Sentence completion*
  • TAT*
  • Rorschach*
  • Bender-Gestalt
  • Projective Drawings*
current training
Current Training
  • 49% of directors of clinical psychology graduate programs and 65% of the directors of clinical internships believe that formal training in projectives is important.
current practitioners
Current Practitioners
  • 82% of clinical psychologists administer the Rorschach at least “occasionally” and 43% report frequently or always using it.
  • A recent estimate place the number of Rorschachs administered each year at 6 million.
projective techniques
Projective techniques
  • Present respondents with an ambiguous stimulus and ask them to disambiguate it.
  • Has the distinction of being the most cherished and the most reviled of all psychological assessment instruments.
interpretive systems
Interpretive Systems
  • Developed in the 20’s
    • Content
    • Location
    • Determinents
      • Color
      • Movement
      • shading
  • Exner System released in 1974 suggested a scientific basis for the Rorschach.
  • Exner norms are unrepresentative of the U. S. population and tend to make normal adults and children appear maladjusted.
file drawer problem
File Drawer Problem
  • Studies with negative results less likely to be accepted for publication (publication bias)
  • Also less like to be submitted.
low base rate
Low base rate
  • Studies tend to be based on differentiating two equally sized groups.
  • In real life base rates may be very low.
popularity of rorschach
Popularity of Rorschach
  • Part of the allure is its mystery
  • How could something as simple as 10 inkblots reveal inner personality
  • “X rays of the mind”
  • A deep well with rich and valuable information.
  • Intuition and clinical lore.
face validity and test utility
Face Validity and Test Utility
  • Can a test high in face validity be useful in a psychological evaluation?
  • What does it add to the interview data?
criticisms of projectives
Overly complex scoring systems

Questionable norms

Subjectivity of scoring

Poor predictive validity

Inadequate validity

Extensive time required to learn

Heavy reliance on psychoanalytic theory

Objective tests more time and cost effective

Criticisms of Projectives
  • TAT produces personal data that theoretically bypass a subject’s conscious resistances.
thematic apperception test tat
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • Morgan & Murray 1935.Elicit fantasy material from patients in psychoanalysis.31 cards
tat administration
TAT administration
  • A set of 20 cards is recommended but the number may vary based on length of stories:
  • Some cards are suggested for use with adult males, adult females, or both.
  • Some are best used with children; however, all cards may be administered to any subject.
  • Kim (2001) showed that even participants who were fully informed about the functioning of the IAT were not able to fake positive implicit attitudes toward Blacks.
  • It is further assumed that implicit measures are not subject to conscious control, and, thus, response factors and introspective limits (Greenwald et al., 2002) do not diminish their validity.
Proponents of projective techniques maintain that inventories and other self-report instruments fail to get at deeper layers of personality because people either are not aware of their characteristics and problems or will not reveal them.
  • How good a job of understanding psychological functioning do we do?
  • This questionnaire, though not a substitute for a clinical evaluation, is designed to help you recognize if you may have symptoms of ADD and would benefit from further assessment by a physician. The responses you have provided indicate that your symptoms may be consistent with Adult ADD. It may be beneficial for you to talk with your healthcare professional about an evaluation.Go to WebMD to find a physician in your area who treats Adult ADD.