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THE PROJECTIVE PERSONALITY TESTS:THE RORSCHACH

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LESSON 20
THE PROJECTIVE PERSONALITY TESTS
PROJECTIVE TESTS
Projective test represents the second broad approach to the assessment of personality, one that is
radically different from the methods used in objective personality tests. The format, items,
administration, and scoring of projective personality tests are all distinct from that of objective tests,
whereas objective tests require responses to explicit verbal questions or statements, projective tests ask
for responses to ambiguous and unstructured stimuli. Indeed, a major distinguishing feature of
projective techniques is the use of a relatively unstructured task that permits an almost unlimited
number of responses.
The development and use of virtually all projective personality tests are based on the projective
personality tests are based on the projective hypothesis, i.e. projective techniques were essentially
psychological X-rays. According to the projective hypothesis, when faced with ambiguous stimuli,
respondents will project aspects of their personalities onto the stimuli in an effort to make sense of them.
The examiner then can work backward from the persons' responses to gain insight into the personality
dispositions.
THE NATURE OF PROJECTIVE TESTS
Projective techniques, taken as a whole, tend to have the following distinguishing characteristics.
1. In response to an unstructured or ambiguous stimulus, examinees are forced to impose their own
structure and, in so doing, reveal something of themselves (such as needs, wishes, or conflicts).
2. The stimulus material is unstructured. This is a very tenuous criterion, even though it is widely
assumed to reflect the essence of projective techniques. For example, if 70% of all examinees perceive
Card V on the Rorschach as a bat, then we can hardly say that the stimulus is unstructured. Thus,
whether a test is projective or not depends on the kinds of responses that the individual is encouraged to
give and on how those responses are used. The instructions are the important element. If a patient is
asked to classify the people in a set of TAT cards as men or women, then there is a great deal of struc-
ture--the test is far from ambiguous. However, if the patient is asked what the people on the card are
saying, the task has suddenly become quite ambiguous indeed.
3. The method is indirect. To some degree or other, examinees are not aware of the purposes of the test;
at least, the purposes are disguised. Although patients may know that the test has something to do with
adjustment-maladjustment, they are not usually-aware in detail of the significance of their responses.
There is no attempt to ask patients directly about their needs or troubles; the route is indirect, and the
hope is that this very indirectness will make it more difficult for patients to censor the data they provide.
4. There is freedom of response. Whereas questionnaire methods may allow only for a "yes" or a "no,"
projective permit a nearly infinite range of responses.
5. Response interpretation deals with more variables. Since the range of possible responses is so broad,
the clinician can make interpretations along multiple dimensions (needs, adjustment, diagnostic
category, ego defenses, and so on). Many objective tests, in contrast, provide but a single score (such as
degree of psychological distress), or scores on a fixed number of dimensions or scales.
MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDIZATION
The contrasts between objective tests and projective tests are striking. The former, by their very nature,
lend themselves to an actuarial interpretive approach. Norms, reliability, and even validity seem easier
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to manage. The projective, by their very nature, seem to resist psychometric evaluation. Indeed, some
clinicians reject even the suggestion that a test such as the Rorschach should be subjected to the
indignities of psychometrics; they would see this as an assault upon their intuitive art. In this section, we
offer several general observations about the difficulties involved in evaluating the psychometric proper-
ties of protective tests.
Standardization: Should projective techniques be standardized? There are surely many reasons for
doing so. Such standardization would facilitate communication and would also serve as a check against
the biases and the interpretive zeal of some clinicians. Furthermore, the enthusiastic proponents of
projective usually act as if they have norms (implicit though these may be), so that there seems to be no
good reason not to attempt the standardization of those norms. Of course, research problems with
projective can be formidable.
The dissenters argue that interpretations from projectives cannot be standardized. Every person is
unique, and any normative descriptions will inevitably be misleading. There are so many interacting
variables that standardized interpretive approaches would surely destroy the holistic nature of protective
tests. After all, they say, interpretation is an art.
Reliability: Even the determination of reliability turns out not to be simple. For example, it is surely too
much to expect an individual to produce, word for word, exactly the same TAT story on two different
occasions. Yet how many differences between two stories are permissible? Of course, one can bypass
test responses altogether and deal only with the reliability of the personality interpretations made by
clinicians. However, this may confound the reliability of the test with the reliability of the judge. Also,
test-retest reliability may be affected by psychological changes in the individual--particularly when
dealing with patient populations. It is true that clinicians can opt for establishing reliability through the
use of alternate forms. However, how do they decide that alternate forms for TAT cards or inkblots are
equivalent? Even split-half reliability is difficult to ascertain because of the difficulty of demonstrating
the equivalence of the two halves of each test.
Validity: Because projective have been used for such a multiplicity of purposes, there is little point in
asking general questions: Is the TAT valid? Is the Rorschach a good personality test? The questions
must be more specific: Does the TAT predict aggression in situation A? Does score [from the Rorschach
correlate with clinical dents of anxiety?
With these issues in mind, we turn now to a discussion of several of the more popular projective tests.
THE RORSCHACH
The prototypic example of projective personality tests is the Rorschach Inkblot Test, developed by
Swiss psychiatrist Herman Rorschach in 1921.indeed, the Rorschach Inkblot Test `has the dubious
distinction of being, simultaneously, the most cherished and the most reviled of all psychological
assessment instruments'.
Description: The Rorschach consists of ten cards on which are printed inkblots that are symmetrical
from right to left. Five of the ten cards are black and white (with shades of gray), and the other five are
colored.
Administration: There are various techniques for administering the Rorschach. However, for many
clinicians, the process goes something like this. The clinician hands the patient the first card and says,
"Tell me what you see--what it might be for you. There are no right or wrong answers. Just tell me
what it looks like to you." All of the subsequent cards are administered in order. The clinician takes
down verbatim everything the patient says. Some clinicians also record the length of time it takes the
patient to make the first response to each card, as well as the total rime spent on each card. Some
patients produce many responses per card, others very few. The clinician also notes the position of the
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card as each response is given (right side up, upside down, or sideways). All spontaneous remarks or
exclamations are also recorded. Following this phase, the clinician moves to what is called the Inquiry.
Here the patient is reminded of all previous responses, one by one, and asked what it was that prompted
each response. The patient is also asked to indicate for each card the exact location of the various re-
sponses. This is also a time when the patient may elaborate or clarify responses.
Scoring: The scoring of responses converts the important aspects of each response into a symbol system
related to location areas, determinants, content areas, and popularity
Location: Location is scored in terms of which portion of the blot was used as a basis for a response
(e.g. the whole blot, a common detail of the blot, an unusual detail of the blot, an area of white space).
Attention to the whole blot with accurate form perception reflects good organizational ability and high
intelligence. Over attention to detail is common in obsessive and paranoid subjects.
Determinants: the determinants of each response reflect the Features of the blot that made it look the
way the patient thought it Looked (e.g. form, shading, colures, and movement of either humans or
animals, inanimate movements). Overemphasis on form suggests rigidity and constriction of the
personality. Color responses relate to the emotional reactions of the person to the environment and to
the control of affect.
Interpretation: The Rorschach test is particularly useful as an aid in diagnosis. The subjects thinking
and association patterns are brought clearly into focus because the ambiguity of the stimulus provides
relatively few cues about what are conventional, standard, or normal Responses. Proper interpretation,
however, requires a great deal of Experience. There is a high reliability among experienced clinicians
who administer the test. In proper hands, the test is extremely useful, especially in eliciting
psychodynamic formulations, defense mechanism, and subtle disorders of thinking.
Reliability and Validity: Research-oriented clinical psychologists have questioned the reliability of
Rorschach scores for years, at the most basic level one should be confident that Rorschach responses
can be scored reliably across raters. If the same Rorschach responses cannot be scored similarly by
different raters using the same scoring system, then it is hard to imagine that the instrument would have
much utility in clinical prediction situations. Unfortunately, the extent to which Rorschach scoring
systems meet acceptable standards for this most basic and straightforward form of reliability remains
contentious.
Interscorer reliability is important to address, we must evaluate the consistency of an individual's scores
across time or test conditions, as well as the reliability of interpretations of scores.
As for validity of Rorschach scores and interpretations, there have been many testimonials the years,
from the vast Rorschach literature, it is apparent that the test is not equally valid for all purposes. In a
very real sense, the problem is not one of determining whether the Rorschach is valid, but of differenti-
ating the conditions under which it is useful from those under which it is not. For many years, a
procedure involving interpretation of a Rorschach with almost no other information about the patient
was used to assess Rorschach validity
Utility of Rorschach: The debate over the utility of the Rorschach in clinical assessment continues.
Rorschach is useful when the focus is on the unconscious functioning and problem-solving styles of
individuals. However, critics remain skeptical of the clinical utility of Rorschach scores or their
incremental validity.
Rorschach Inkblot "Method." Recently, Weiner 11994) has argued that the Rorschach is best con-
ceptualized as a method of data collection, not a test. The Rorschach is not a test because it does not test
anything. A test is intended to measure whether something is present or not and in what quantity. . . .
But with the Rorschach, which has traditionally been classified as a test of personality, we do not
measure whether people have a personality or how much personality they have.
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Several implications follow. First, Weiner argues that data generated from the Rorschach method can be
interpreted from a variety of theoretical positions. These data suggest how the respondent typically
solves problems or makes decisions (cognitive structuring processes) as well as the meanings that are
assigned to these perceptions (associational processes). Weiner calls this an "integrationist" view of the
Rorschach, because the method provides data relevant to both the structure and dynamics of personality.
According to Weiner, a second, practical implication is that viewing the Rorschach as a method allows
one to fully use all aspects of the data that are generated, resulting in a more thorough diagnostic
evaluation.
The influence and utility of this reconceptualization remains to be seen. In any case, empirical data
supporting the utility and incremental validity of data generated by the Rorschach "method" are still
necessary before its routine use in clinical settings can be advocated.
THEMATIC APPERCEPTION TEST
The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) was introduced by Morgan and Murray in 1935. It purports to
reveal patients' basic personality characteristics through the interpretation of their imaginative
productions in response to a series of pictures. Although the test is designed to reveal central conflicts,
attitudes, goals, and repressed material, it actually produces material that is a collage of these plus
situational influences, cultural stereotypes, trivia, and so on.
Most clinicians use the TAT as a method of inferring psychological needs (achievement, affiliation,
dependency, power, sex, and so on) and of disclosing how the patient interacts with the environment.
TAT is used to infer the content of personality and the mode of social interactions. With a TAT,
clinicians are likely to make specific judgments, such as "This patient is hostile toward authority figures,
yet seeks their affection and approval." The TAT is less likely to be used to assess the degree of
maladjustment than to reveal the locus of problems, the nature of needs, or the quality of interpersonal
relationships
Description: There are 31 TAT cards (one is a blank card); most depict people in a variety of situations,
but a few contain only objects. Some are said to be useful for boys and men, some for girls and women,
and some for both genders. Murray suggested that 20 of the 31 cards be selected for a given examinee.
As a test, the TAT does not appear to be as ambiguous or unstructured as the Rorschach. However,
though the figures in the pictures may clearly be people, it is not always clear what their gender is,
exactly who they are, what they are doing, or what they are thinking.
Administration: In practice, clinicians typically select somewhere between 6 and 12 cards for ad-
ministration to a given patient. Although the exact instructions used will vary from clinician to clinician,
they go something like this: "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. OK? The patient's productions are transcribed by the clinician. In some instances,
patients may be asked to write out their stories, but this can result in shorter than normal stories.
Scoring: Several scoring systems have been developed for the TAT, for example, rate each story on
several scoring categories, including unconscious structure and drives of the subject, relationship to the
others, significant conflicts, defenses used, and ego strength. Another scoring system for TAT was
designed to assess object relations, that is, respondent's mental representations of people, of other
people. Four dimensions of object relations were assesses; complexity of representation of people,
affect-tone of relationships, capacity for emotional investment in relationships and moral standards, and
understanding.
Reliability and Validity: It is very difficult to evaluate the reliability and validity of the TAT in any
formal sense. There are so many variations in instructions, methods of administration, number of cards
used, and type of scoring scheme (if any) that hard conclusions are virtually impossible. The same
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methodological issues arise when studying reliability. For example, personality changes may obscure
any conclusions about test-retest reliability, or there may be uncertainty about equivalent forms when
trying to assess alternate-forms reliability. It is possible to investigate theme reliability, but since one
cannot expect word-for-word similarity from one occasion next, one is usually studying the reliability of
judges' interpretations. When there is an explicit, theoretically derived set of scoring instructions
interjudge agreement can reach acceptable proportions. Interjudge reliability can also be achieved when
quantitative ratings are involved .But broad, global interpretations can present problems.
Some attempts have been made to establish the validity of the TAT. Methods have included
(1) Comparison of TAT interpretations with case data or with therapist evaluations of the patient;
(2) Matching techniques and analyses of protocols with no additional knowledge about the patient;
(3) Comparisons between clinical diagnoses derived from the TAT and psychiatrists' judgments; and
(4) Establishment of the validity of certain general principles of interpretation (for example, the
tendency of the person to identify with the hero of the story, or the probability that unusual themes are
more significant than common ones).
The typical clinical use of the TAT suggests that it remains basically a subjective instrument. Although
it is possible to identify general principles of interpretation, these can serve only as guides--not as exact
prescriptions for interpretation. Adequate interpretation depends upon some knowledge of the patient's
background. As the clinician examines the test protocol, attention must be paid to the frequency with
which thematic elements occur, the unusualness of stories, the manner in which plots are developed,
misrecognitions, the choice of words, identifications with plot characters, and so on. The clinician will
want to look closely at the nature of the TAT heroes or heroines and at their needs and goals. The
environmental presses are also important, as is the general emotional ambiance of the themes.
SENTENCE COMPLETION TECHNIQUES
A very durable and serviceable, yet simple, technique is the sentence completion method. The most
widely used and best-known of the many versions is the Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank. The
Incomplete Sentences Blank (/SB) consists of 40 sentence stems--for example, "I like . . . ." "What
annoys me? ..." I wish . . . and "Most girls . . . ." Each of the completions can be scored along a 7-point
scale to provide a general index of adjustment-maladjustment. The ISB has great versatility, and scoring
schemes for a variety of variables have been developed.
The ISB has several advantages. The scoring is objective and reliable, due in part to extensive scoring
examples provided in the manual. The ISB can be used easily and economically, and it appears to be a
good screening device. Although it can be scored objectively, it also allows considerable freedom of
response. Thus the ISB falls somewhere between the two extremes of the objective-projective
dimensions. It represents a fairly direct approach to measurement that does not require the degree of
training that is necessary, to example, to score the Rorschach. Some clinicians may be disturbed by the
[SB's relative lack of disguise. Perhaps because of this, the ISB does not typically provide information
that could not be gleaned from a reasonably extensive interview. In many ways, then, the ISB provides a
cognitive and behavioral picture of the patient rather than a "deep, psychodynamic" picture.
WORD-ASSOCIATION TECHNIQUE
The word association technique was devised by Carl Gustav Jung, who presented stimulus words to
patients and had them respond with the first word that came to mind. After the initial administration of
the list, some clinicians repeat the list, asking the patient to respond with some words that he/she used
previously discrepancies between the two administrations may reveal associational difficulties.
Complex indicators include long reaction times, blocking difficulties in making responses, unusual
responses, repetition of the stimulus words, appearance Misunderstanding of the word, clang
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association, preservation of earlier responses, and ideas or unusual mannerism of movements
accompanying the responses. Because it is easily qualified, the test has continued to be used as a
research instrument, although its popularity has diminished greatly over the years.
ADVANTAGES OF PROJECTIVE TECHNIQUES
First advantage is the amount, richness and accuracy of information that is collected. Another advantage
is that a variety of projective techniques are frequently used in the context of individual interviews or
conventional focus group discussions (breaking the ice). Projective techniques also help to open
discussions around socially sensitive issues, where the client may be embarrassed, or feel a lake of
knowledge. These techniques are also useful in encouraging in subjects a state of freedom and
spontaneity of expression, where they may hesitate to express their opinion directly for fear of
disapproval or when they find them threatening for some other reasons.
DISADVANTAGES
Primary disadvantage is the complexity of data and the corresponding skills required of the researcher.
Interpreters need to be very trained and skilled. They are expensive to administer because highly trained
staff is needed to be employed.
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Table of Contents:
  1. MENTAL HEALTH TODAY: A QUICK LOOK OF THE PICTURE:PARA-PROFESSIONALS
  2. THE SKILLS & ACTIVITIES OF A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST:THE INTERNSHIP
  3. HOW A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST THINKS:Brianís Case; an example, PREDICTION
  4. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:THE GREEK PERIOD
  5. HISTORY OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Research, Assessment, CONCLUSION
  6. HOW CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS BECAME INVOLVED IN TREATMENT
  7. MODELS OF TRAINING IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS
  8. CURRENT ISSUES IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:CERTIFICATION, LICENSING
  9. ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS:PREAMBLE
  10. THE ROLE OF RESEARCH IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:LIMITATION
  11. THE RESEARCH PROCESS:GENERATING HYPOTHESES, RESEARCH METHODS
  12. THE CONCEPT OF ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR & MENTAL ILLNESS
  13. CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESOVERVIEW OF ETIOLOGY:PANDAS
  14. THE PROCESS OF DIAGNOSIS:ADVANTAGES OF DIAGNOSIS, DESCRIPTION
  15. THE CONCEPT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
  16. THE CLINICAL INTERVIEW:The intake / admission interview, Structured interview
  17. THE ASSESSMENT OF INTELLIGENCE:RELIABILTY AND VALIDITY, CATTELLíS THEORY
  18. INTELLIGENCE TESTS:PURPOSE, COMMON PROCEDURES, PURPOSE
  19. THE USE AND ABUSE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING:PERSONALITY
  20. THE PROJECTIVE PERSONALITY TESTS:THE RORSCHACH
  21. THE OBSERVATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ITS TYPES:Home Observation
  22. THE BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT THROUGH INTERVIEWS, INVENTORIES AND CHECK LISTS
  23. THE PROCESS AND ACCURACY OF CLINICAL JUDGEMENT:Comparison Studies
  24. METHODS OF IMPROVING INTERPRETATION AND JUDGMENT
  25. PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS AND THEIR GOALS:THE EXPERT ROLE
  26. IMPORTANCE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY:ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
  27. COURSE OF NEW CLINICAL INTERVENTIONS:IMPLEMENTING TREATMENT
  28. NATURE OF SPECIFIC THERAPEUTIC VARIABLES:CLIENTíS MOTIVATION
  29. THE BEGINNING OF PSYCHOANALYSIS:THE CASE OF ANNA, THE INSTINCTS
  30. PSYCHOANALYTIC ALTERNATIVES:EGO ANALYSIS, CURATIVE FACTORS
  31. CLIENT CENTERED THERAPY:PURPOSE, BACKGROUND, PROCESS
  32. GESTALT THERAPY METHODS AND PROCEDURES:SELF-DIALOGUE
  33. ORIGINS AND TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES OF BEHAVIOR THERAPY
  34. COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY:MODELING, RATIONAL RESTRUCTURING
  35. GROUP THERAPY: METHODS AND PROCEDURES:CURATIVE FACTORS
  36. FAMILY AND COUPLES THERAPY:POSSIBLE RISKS
  37. INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY:THE ENVIRONMENT
  38. METHODS OF INTERVENTION AND CHANGE IN COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY
  39. INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY OF HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY
  40. APPLICATIONS OF HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY:OBESITY, HEALTH CARE TRENDS
  41. NEUROPSYCHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES AND HISTORY:STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
  42. METHODS OF NEUROLOGICAL ASSESSMENT:Level Of Performance, Pattern Analysis
  43. FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY:Qualification, Testifying, Cross Examination, Criminal Cases
  44. PEDIATRIC AND CHILD PSYCHOLOGY: HISTORY AND PERSPECTIVE
  45. INTERVENTIONS & TRAINING IN PEDIATRIC AND CLINICAL CHILD PSYCHOLOGY