projective techniques

Projective Techniques

Projective Techniques – Personality Assessment Method:

Personality measurement techniques like Observation Techniques, Situation Tests, Autobiography, Questionnaire, Personality Inventory, Interview, Biographies, Case History, Rating Scales and Sociometric Techniques are mainly used to evaluate overt of conscious behavior of an individual. But covert or unconscious behavior is more significant than overt behaviors for personality measurement of an individual. By these techniques we can’t measure covert or unconscious behavior of an individual. Because sometimes individual represses his or her feelings, wises, desires, fears, hopes, ambitions etc….

According to Freud, our conscious behavior is only one tenth of our total behavior. So during the measurement of personality of an individual, we should measure his or her covert or unconscious behavior with his or her overt of conscious behavior.

For this purpose, nowadays, a special type of test is used for personality measurement on the basis of projection phenomena. This type of test is called projective technique. Projective techniques are in different types.

In Projective techniques, some problems are presented indirectly to the individual and told him or her to react on those problems. After individual’s reaction, reactions are analyzed. Then on the basis of the mode of the reaction, personality of individual is measured.

The main feature of this type of technique ( Projective Techniques ) is that the individual project his mental characteristics in his reaction.

Projective techniques are in different types. Here we discuss about some common projective techniques. They are –






In this test (one of Projective techniques), principle of projection is applied very easily. A list of selected words is in this test. Words are told one by one to the examinee and then he is asked to tell about the word, which is coming in his mind. The examiner then records the replies to each word spoken by him, the reaction times and any unusual speeches or behaviors of examinee. After that all replies, reaction times, unusual speeches or behaviors (if any) are analyzed and personality of the examinee is determined on the basis of analyzing of all replies, reaction times and unusual speeches or behaviors manifestations at the time of test.


This test is prepared with a list of incomplete sentences. These sentences are generally open ended. The examinee is asked to complete the sentences with one or more words as quickly as possible. For example, we can use the following sentences for above mentioned test:

1) I am worried over _____________________________.

2) My dream is _________________________________.

3) I feel proud when ______________________________.

4) I like ________________________________________.

5) My hero is ____________________________________.

This test is better than “WORD ASSOCIATION TEST”. Because in this test, examinee can respond in more than one word. Due to this reason, we get a great flexible and variable responses from examinee. As a result, a wide area of personality and experiences of examinee become possible to measure.


The Rorschach inkblot test is one of well known projective techniques for personality measurement. This technique was developed by the swiss psychologist, Harmann Rorschach. In this test, as a material, 10 cards are used. There are inkblots on every card. Five of them are in black and white and five are multicolored. The inkblots are completely unstructured and the shapes of the blots do not have any specific meaning.

During this test, cards are presented to the examinee one at a time in a specific order and the whole process of this test is administered in the following sequence:

1) At first when the examinee gets seated, the examiner gives him or her first card with necessary instructions and asks him or her to say – What he or she sees in it? and What it looks like to him or her? Etc.

In that time examinee is allowed as much time as he wants for a given card and he or she is permitted to give as many responses as he or she wishes. He or she is also allowed to turn the card around and look at it from any angle he or she wants.

2) After that, examiner notes (i) the time taken by the examinee for each response, (ii) the position in which the cards are being hold, (iii) emotional expression of examinee during the test and (iv) other incidental behavior of examinee concerning cards or inkblots during the test etc.

3) After all the cards have been presented, process of scoring to the responses and analysis of them as well as interpretation of the test is started by the examiner.

For the purpose of scoring, all responses are given specific symbols and are entered in to 4 columns. These 4 columns represent as four categories. They are –

(a) Location

(b) Contents

(c) Originality

(d) Determinants.

(a) Location:

Location refers to the part of the blot on which responses of the examinee is associated. Scoring of location responses are presented by some symbols. There are five symbols are used for this purpose. They are –

(W)- ‘W’ indicates that examinee is seeing the card as a whole.

(w)- ‘w’ indicates that examinee has failed to see the card as a whole.

(D)- ‘D’ indicates that examinee has able to speak about the major details of the card.

(d)-‘d’ indicates that examinee has responses about the minor details of the card.

(s)-‘s’ indicates that examinee has able to response to the white spaces within the main outline.

(b) Contents:

Content refers to that contents which are used for describe the blot by the examinee. Scoring of contents is presented by some symbol like location responses. There are six symbol are used for this purpose. They are –

Symbol Contents
H Human Being or Human forms
A Animal or Animal forms
Ad Animal Details
Hd Human details
N Natural object like rivers, green field etc.
O Inanimate object like lamp-shade, pot, car etc.

(c) Originality:

Originality refers to two types of responses which are named as popular responses and original responses. For popular responses symbol ‘P’ is used and for original responses symbol ‘O’ is used.  Popular responses are that responses which are occurred generally. On the other hand original responses are that responses which are something new or special in nature.

Symbol Responses
P Responses which are occurred generally.
O Responses which are something new or special in nature.

(d) Determinants:

Determinants refer to the notes of the manner of perception of examinee. There are four types of determinants. They are –

(i) The form of the blot

(ii) The color of the blot

(iii) Movement of the blot


(iv) Shading of the blot.

For each determinant has representative symbol. Symbol ‘F’ is used for the form of the blot, Symbol ‘C’ is used for the color of the blot, Symbol ‘M’ is used for the movement of the blot and Symbol ‘K’ is used for the shading of the blot.

Symbol Determinants
F The form of the blot.
C The color of the blot.
M Movement of the blot.
K Shading of the blot.

For example;

1) If the examinee responds to the blot as a bird, fish or insect like bee, butterfly; then we can say that it is the ‘Form’. This is a way of seeing of examinee. In this case we score the response as ‘F’.

2) If the examinee sees something like fire, blood etc on the blot. Then the determinant is the color. In this case we score the response as ‘C’ symbol.

3) If the examinee responds in terms of movements – (i) Like a boy playing, swimming, running etc. (ii) Like dogs barking, cats mewing etc. (iii) Like water falling, cloth fluttering etc. Then the determinant is the movement. In this case we score the response as ‘M’ symbol.

4) If the examinee responds in terms of shading like – rough or smooth surfaces, smoke, cloud etc, then the determinant is shading.  In this case we score the response as ‘K’ symbol.


After scoring completion, Interpretation is started. In this regard different symbols in all the four columns are counted. This gives an idea of the relative frequencies of different kinds of responses and helps the interpreter to decide the personality characteristics of the examinee.


Thematic Apperception Test is one of projective techniques, used to measure personality. It was first introduced by Henry Murry in 1943. In that time it was used to measure the need for achievement. Later it was fully developed for the measurement of personality with the help of the psychologist C.D.Morgan.

This test consists of perception of certain picture in a thematic manner (Revealing imaginative themes). There are thirty card of picture in this test. The pictures which portray human beings in a variety of actual life situation. Out of thirty pictures, ten are for males, ten are for females and ten are common to both sexes. The maximum numbers of twenty pictures are used on an examinee in this test. The test is administered in two sessions by using ten pictures in each session.

The pictures are presented one at a time. They are vague and indefinite. The examinee is told by examiner that he or she has to make up a story for each picture, presented to him or her, with in a fixed period of time. There, no time will remain to think.

At the time of making up the story by the examinee, he/she will must take care of the following things—

1) What is going on in the picture?

2) What has led to this scene?

3) What would likely happen in this situation?

During making up the stories for each picture, the examinee unconsciously projects several characteristics of his/her own personality. The stories which are built by examinee, express his or her own natural life’s desires, likes and dislikes, ambition, emotions, sentiments etc.

The special thing of this test is to explore the hidden drives, complexes and conflicts of the examinee’s personality.

Scoring and Interpretation:

On the basis of the stories which are built by the examinee, his or her personality determination is started. For this purpose examiner analyze all stories. Then scoring and interpretation is done. The scoring and interpretation is made through the following variables—

1) Hero of the story:

What type of personality does he have?

2) Theme of the story:

What is the nature of theme or plot used in making up the story?

3) The style of the story:

The length of the story

The language used in the story

Whether the expression is direct or indirect, forced or natural or poor?

Originality and creativity during organization of the contents of the story.

4) The content of the story:

What interests, sentiments and attitudes they depict?

Whether has behavior been expressed in real terms or as fantasy?

What is the inner state of the mind, the story reveals?

5) Test situation as a whole:

The examinee’s reaction is to be listed as a whole.

6) Particular emphasis or omissions:

The omissions, additions, alterations and attention to particulars detail.

7) Examinee’s attitude towards authority and sex:

Which emotion has been depicted towards authority and sex?

8) Outcome:

Whether is the ending of the story happy, unhappy, funny, etc.?


As a projective technique of personality measurement, Thematic Apperception Test or TAT is used only for adults or adolescents. This is not appropriate for children.

So, for children’s personality measurement, a projective technique was developed by Dr. Leopold Bellak. The name of that projective technique is Children Apperception Test or CAT. This test is used for personality measurement for children between three and ten years of age.

This test consists of 10 cards of pictures of animals instead of human characters. It was thought that pictures of animal figures will be easy to identify than human figures.

Animals in the pictures on the cards are shown in various real life situations. All cards (10 cards) are used for children of both sexes. The pictures are designed to evoke imagination relating to the child’s own experiences, reactions and feelings.

In the test, all ten cards are presented one by one to the examinee and he or she is asked to make up stories out of them. During making up stories, examiner should try to develop a rapport with the children that they treat the making up stories as a game.

After making up stories by children, personality of them is started to measure through the interpretation of the stories. Interpretation of the stories is made through the following eleven (11) variables:-

1) Hero of the Story-

Personality of the hero as stated in the story.

2) Theme of the Story-

The nature of the theme selected for making the story.

3) The end of the Story-

Whether the ending of the story is happy, wishful, realistic or unrealistic?

4) Attitude towards elders-

Which of the following emotions has been depicted in relation to elders – hatred, respect, devotion, gratitude, dependence, aggression, fear?

5) Family Identification-

By whom the child in the family has identified himself?

6) Other outside figures introduced:

Objects or external elements have been introduced in the stories which are not shown in the pictures.

7) Omitted or Ignored figures-

Which figures have the child omitted or ignored should be noted as they may reveal the wish of the examinee?

8) Nature of anxieties-

Anxieties like harassment, lose of love, fear of being left along etc. shall also be noted.

9) Punishment for crime-

It should be noted that the relationship between a crime committed in the story and the severity of punishment given for, it should be noted.

10) Defense and confidence-

The type of defense like fight, aggression, passivity, regression etc. child adopts; the nature of compliance or dependence involved to the pleasure and achievement, sex desire etc. should also be noted.

11) Other supplementary factors-

The language, the overall structure of the stories, the time taken for completing stories, the reaction of the examinee at the time of making up the stories etc.

With all the above knowledge, an expert interpreter can interpret the child’s personality.

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