Projective test

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Projective tests (also personality development methods or interpretation tests ) are a group of psychological investigation methods that usually retrieve projections from the test subject using interpretable image material (e.g. standardized ink blots in the Rorschach test with the question: "What could that be?") Should allow conclusions to be drawn about his personality. The idea behind this is that these projections are influenced by attitudes, motives and innermost desires of the test subject, and therefore allow a diagnostic statement. This form of interpretation is called interpretation.

Known projective methods

In addition to the Rorschach test, there are other known and relatively frequently used projective test methods, e.g. B. Thematic apperception test (TAT), here pictures of ambiguous situations are shown, the test person should tell what is happening in his opinion. There is also a version for children with the Children's Apperception Test (CAT).

The Wartegg drawing test is another frequently used projective method in which an image is to be drawn according to the test specifications, as is the tree test .

Family in Animals (FIT) is particularly suitable for working with children . The child is asked to paint all family members as animals. Another variant is the The Enchanted Family test . In the Scenotest , the child should build a scenery with dolls, figures and components. In the Rosenzweig PF (Picture Frustration Test PFT), which is also available for adults, the child is supposed to come up with suitable answers for the speech bubbles of the people acting there for pictures depicting conflict situations.

Advantages and criticism

One of the advantages of projective tests is that there are no right or wrong answers, so the test person is relieved of the pressure of “ social desirability ”. Especially when testing children, this means that they can communicate something to the user without having to feel guilty.

At the same time, this is also their main disadvantage. If it is not clearly specified what is assessed as right or wrong, the quality of the evaluation and thus the quality of the diagnosis depends solely on the evaluator (this is also referred to as low evaluation objectivity ). The other important quality criteria of a psychological test ( reliability , validity ) are also far worse for projective methods than for objective tests. For the area of ​​professional motivation (achievement, power and loyalty motive ) there are now psychometrically significantly improved procedures, such as the multi-motive grid (MMG) and the operant motive test (OMT) (both in Sarges & Wottawa, 2004).

It is entirely justified to regard the evaluation of classic projective tests as more of an art than a scientific method. Nevertheless, projective testing methods are still widely used. The most recent edition of the Rorschach test to date was published in the USA in 1993. The lack of or limited possibility to standardize projective procedures also applies in principle to the most common psychological survey tool, the biographical anamnesis .

There are therefore good reasons to assume that violations of the test quality criteria (objectivity, reliability, validity) do not always have to be understood as a sign of the uselessness of a test. This can be read as an example for the thematic apperception test.

The criticisms of the projective tests are put into perspective by the multidimensional character test , which separates the structural and thematic projection within the framework of the evaluation.


  • M. Amelang & L. Schmidt-Atzert: Psychological diagnostics and intervention . Springer, Heidelberg, 2006, ISBN 3-540-28462-1 .
  • G. Holznagel: Projective tools in psychotherapy . In: FORUM for art therapy, 1/2013, journal of the GPK / Aarburg / Switzerland association, ISSN  1018-4090
  • W. Sarges & H. Wottawa (eds.): Handbook of economic psychological test procedures. Vol. 1: Personal psychological instruments . Lengerich: Pabst, 2004, ISBN 3-935357-55-9