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Projective Test: Definition & Example

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  • 0:00 What Is a Projective Test?
  • 1:22 How Are Projective Tests Used?
  • 1:56 Rorschach and TAT
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carrie Hill

Carrie enjoys teaching psychology at the college level, and has a master's degree in counseling.

Projective tests are used to evaluate personality in a very unique way. This lesson describes the process, and shares examples of the most commonly used projective tests.

What Is a Projective Test?

What do you see when you look at this image? And, why does it matter? You're about to find out! Welcome to the exciting world of psychological testing; more specifically, the world of projective tests.

In psychology, a projective test starts with an ambiguous image such as the one above. When you look at this colorful image, it is possible to see any number of things. According to the theory behind these kinds of tests, and because the image is open to interpretation, what you see is a reflection of your personality or your experiences. For example, a person who'd recently witnessed a murder might see pools of blood in the image, or a little girl might find a butterfly. Proponents of the projective test believe that the way you interpret the image is a reflection of who you are.

Most other types of personality tests ask you to describe how you feel or how you behave. They rely on you to report your experiences accurately. A projective test is different because it attempts to measure personality using your unconscious reactions to the image. Theoretically, this allows the examiner to see things about you that you may be unaware of, or may be reluctant to talk about. In short, a projective test seeks to find the 'real you' and not the person you try to be.

How Are Projective Tests Used?

The use of projective tests became popular in the United States around the time of World War II, when they were sometimes used to evaluate individuals for military service. Since that time, projective tests have been used for a wide variety of assessments and have fallen in and out of favor.

Today, the use of projective tests is controversial due to interpretative challenges that make it difficult to compare one person's score to that of another. Projective tests are most often used in conjunction with other assessments to help provide an in-depth picture of an individual's personality.

Rorschach and TAT

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