I. Nature of Projective Techniques:
- Unstructured Response
Format-- unlimited variety of response options.
- Few instructions--
attempt to evoke "unconscious" material
- Ambiguous Stimulus
- Use of Deception-- no
face validity, in that the test taker is usually not aware of the type of
psychological interpretation that will be made of their responses.
II. Underlying Assumptions of Projective
A. The Projective Hypothesis: the
way in which the individual perceives and interprets the test material (i.e.,
structures) will reflect fundamental aspects of his psychological functioning.
B. Global Approach to personality: a composite
picture of the whole personality, rather than measuring specific traits or
C. Reveal covert, latent, or unconscious aspects
of personality-- The more unstructured the test, less likely it is to evoke
D. Psychodynamic or psychoanalytic influence
III. Inkblot Techniques: The Rorschach Inkblot
- The central
assumption of the Rorschach is that stimuli from the environment are
organized by a person's specific needs, motives, and conflicts, and by
certain perceptual sets.
- This process
requires that persons organize these perceptions as well as associate
them with past experiences and impressions.
- The central thesis
of the Rorschach is that the process by which persons organize their
responses to the Rorschach is representative of how they confront other
ambiguous situations requiring organization and judgment.
The Rorschach Inkblot Test
- Overview Continued
- The overall goal is
to assess the structure of personality, with particular emphasis on how
individuals construct their experience (cognitive structuring) and the
meanings assigned to their perceptual experience (thematic imagery).
- The Rorschach
consists of ten bilaterally symmetrical inkblots.
- Subjects are
requested to tell the examiner what the inkblots "might be."
- Overview Continued
- Responses are scored
according to 3 general categories:
or the area of the inkblot on which they focused
or specific properties of the blot they used in making their
responses (color, shape, shading)
or general class of objects to which the response belongs (human,
- Interpretation of
the overall protocol is based on the number of responses that fall into
each of the above categories, as well as the organizational activity,
types of verbalizations, and the meaningful associations related to the
Rorschach: History & Development
- Hermann Rorschach
published the test in 1921
between clinical and normal subjects
- Not concerned with
symbolic interpretation of contents
- 5 different scoring
systems by 1957
- Became 5 different
- 1972 survey revealed
that 25% of people abandoned scoring and 75% developed their own
- Development of
Exner's Comprehensive Scoring System
Exner's Comprehensive System
standardized administration, scoring, & interpretive procedures
structural rather than content variables (structural summary)
statements at different levels of complexity
- Provides norms for
adults and children
- Provides improved
- Questions remain about
- Introduce the
respondent to the technique
- Give the testing
- The Response phase
- The Inquiry phase
- "help me to
see it the way that you do."
- Gather additional
information that will be useful in interpretation.
Rorschach Interpretation & Scoring
- Location: area of
Activity: involve form, # objects
- Form, movement,
color, shading-texture, pairs & reflections
- Form Quality: How
- Content: what's
involved in their perception?
- Popular Responses
- Z-scores: how much
integration involved in response
- Special Scores:
quality of verbalizations and thought processes
- Richness of
protocol, mystery, & allure
- Access covert or
defensiveness & social desirability
- Highly resistant to
- Ease of
validity and variable across different scoring categories
- Immense time
involved in scoring and interpretation
- Censorship by the
subject, scoring errors, poor interpretation
- Requires extensive
- Gray areas in
- Getting your money's
IV. Pictorial Techniques: Thematic Apperception
- TAT presents more
highly structured stimuli & requires more complex and meaningfully
organized verbal responses than Rorschach.
- Developed by Murray
& Morgan (1935)
of revealing to the trained interpreter some of the dominant drives,
emotions, and sentiments, complexes, and conflicts of
- Interpretation of
the TAT is based on qualitative interpretation or content analysis.
- Consists of 20 cards
for which people formulate stories
fantasies could be revealed by interpreting the stories people
formulated in response to ambiguous stimuli.
- Initially believed
that TAT represented an "X-ray" of the personality that
revealed basic themes
- Integrally involved
with Murray's concept of personality: needs
Murray's Theory of Personality
- Emphasizes the
biological basis as well as the social and environmental determinants
- Focused on the
concept of needs:
construct which stands for a force...which organizes perception,
apperception, intellectualization, connotation, and action in such a
way as to transform in a certain direction an existing, unsatisfying
situation. Thus, it manifests itself by leading the organism to search
for, or to avoid encountering, or when encountered, to attend and
respond to, certain kinds of press (environmental forces)...Each need
is characteristically accompanied by a particular feeling or emotion
and tends to use certain modes to further its ends. Murray (1938)
Assets & Limitations of TAT
- Access to covert
or unconscious structures of personality
susceptibility to faking
- Global focus on
- Richness of data
- Ease of Rapport
establishing adequate reliability (test-retest)
normative data-- predominantly content analysis
- Subject to
validity when the test is used in isolation.
V. Verbal Techniques: Rotter Incomplete Sentence
- Perhaps the most
famous projective technique was that of Free Association, developed by
Galton and expanded by Freud around the turn of the century.
- Another verbal
technique is sentence completion.
- Generally, the
opening words or sentence stems, permit an almost unlimited variety of
- The stems are
frequently formulated so as to elicit responses relevant to the
personality domain under investigation.
TAT Assets and Limitations
- Although the RISB
has developed norms and properties for quantitative scoring, the RISB
is traditionally scored by qualitative analysis-- looking for
individual themes or content and across similar sentence stems.
- Same as other
administration and scoring
- Somewhat more
- Requires reading
- Some argue that
words reduce emotionality of the response
- Subject to more
censorship than other projective techniques
VII. Projective Drawings: House-Tree-Person (HTP)
- In the past,
interpretation of drawings drew heavily on psychoanalytic theory.
- One of the central
assumptions of this procedure is that, because many important aspects
of personality are not available to conscious self-report,
questionnaires and inventories are of limited value.
- To obtain an
accurate view of a person's inner world, one must somehow circumvent
unconscious defenses and conscious resistances.
- Through symbolic
creation, an individual depicts important themes, dynamics, and
drawings are expressive techniques in that they suggest aspects of
the person while he or she is performing some activities.
History and Development of Projective Drawings
- A. History and
- 1. The first formal
development of a drawing technique for assessment was Goodenough's
Draw- A-Man Test
- to estimate a
child's cognitive abilities as reflected in the developmental
quality of the drawing.
- 2. Buck (1948)
H-T-P. He theorized that, in addition to the significance attributed
to human-figure drawings, people similarly attach meaning to houses
- Perhaps the most
frequent and universal metaphor for depicting human development is
the tree. In drawing a tree, the individual reflects his or her
individual transformation process.
- In creating a
person, the individual reflects the self or ego functions.
- The house
reflects the physical aspects of the drama.
- Thus, the H-T-P
represents a metaphor for interpreting the individual's personality
Assets and Limitations of H-T-P
- 1. Richness of
- 2. Symbolic form
- 3. Useful adjunct
to other tests
- 4. Provides a
forum for expressing material that is difficult to express
- 5. Provide a
relatively "culture-free" means of assessment
- 1. Difficulty
establishing the reliability and validity of projective drawings
- 2. Questionable
validity in specific psychiatric classifications
- 3. Many of the
interpretive hypotheses have not been fully investigated.
- 4. No agreed upon
interpretation or scoring system.
Evaluation of Projective Techniques
- A. Rapport and
- B. Faking-- not as
much opportunity for it.
- C. Examiner and
situational Variables-- more subject to the influence of these.
- D. Norms-- most
don't have them. Idiographic qualitative or content analysis instead
- E. Reliability
- 1. Inter-rater--
probably the biggest concern, most don't have standardized scoring
- 2. Test-retest--
questionable for some, but some demonstrate it
- 3. Internal
consistency-- less of an issue since most don't attempt to look at
specific personality characteristics.
- F. Validity-- in
general very questionable
- The Bottom Line
techniques represent valuable clinical tools, but have limited
psychometric success in isolation.