Projective Methods

These methods are based on the principle of projection ( a defence mechanism ) in which a person projects his or her own desire, needs and feelings onto other person or object. To give an example, Suppose you hate a person but you can not say this to that person as he is powerful and has the capacity to punish you. Now, what will you do? You will go away from that person or you will dare express your feelings for him in his face.

But what if both the options are not available to you or you simply are unable to choose one of the two options. In such circumstances, there is also an option of taking recourse to projection. You can pronounce or declare that it is not you who hates the person but actually that person hates you. Thus instead of expressing or giving vent to your feeling indirect manner you simply project them onto that person. Thus you avoid the possibility of punishment and are still able to rid of those feelings.

In projective tests, personality is measured in an indirect manner by presenting the person with an unstructured, vague stimulus or situation. It is believed that when a person reacts to such vague or unstructured stimulus or situation, he projects his unconscious desires, mental conflict and unethical wants without knowing that he is doing so.

History of Projective Methods

Use of projective techniques began with Leonardo da Vinci. Vinci in 1400 AD selected some children and tested them for creativity. He asked them to identify patterns in ambiguous form and shapes. This was followed by Binet in 1800 AD when he tried to measure passive imagination among children using a game called Blotto.

In it, children were shown inkblots and asked to report what they saw in the blots. In 1879 Galton prepared the Word association test. Jung made extensive use of Galton’s test for testing purpose. Ebbinghaus used sentence completion test for measurement of intelligence but soon it was realised that projective tests can be used for personality measurement and thus the projective tests for personality measurement were developed.

Types of Projective Tests

  1. Association tests.
  2. Construction tests.
  3. Completion tests.
  4. Choice or ordering tests.
  5. Expressive tests.

Evaluation of Projective Tests

Although projective tests are widely used in personality assessment, they are criticized for the following reasons:
1) Projective tests are not based on some meaningful and testable criteria hence
the conclusion about the personality of the subject is not tenable.
2) Scoring and interpretation of projective tests are laced with subjectivity this is
particularly true RT and TAT. Consequently, different people reach different
conclusions about the personality of the same individual.
3) These tests lack invalidity and are often used in preparing the case history.
Therefore the results of these tests can’t be relied upon. Most of the psychiatrists
believe that there is a lack of scientific evidence over the expected relationship
between the indicators of personality and the traits measured.

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