Controversies

There are many controversies surrounding projective tests. Many people in the professional community do not believe in these tests for a number of reasons:

Problems:

Reliability- Very poor inter-rater reliability. It has been difficult over time for multiple people to get the same analysis of results across tests. (Kline, 2000)

Validity and Method- Some psychologists take issue with the idea of projective tests revealing something about the unconscious through the use of ambiguous stimuli. There is little evidence supporting the ideas that they can actually do this. (Merrell, 2003) Most projective techniques have low validity coefficients. Also, most manuals for the tests only mention the research that is in support of the test, not the research against it, which is inappropriate. (Kline, 2000)

Contextual Influences– Some studies have found a number of contextual factors to have an effect. For example,  the race and sex of the tester, the mood of the tester while administering the test, and what the subject thinks the test is measuring. (Kline, 2000)

Range of Test- The tests claim to measure a wide range of aspects of the personality, nearly all. Other tests focus on one or a couple aspects. A test that claims to measure such a wide range could be questioned. (Kline, 2000)


Benefits:

Unique- Projective tests give different results than other personality tests, so it would useless to get rid of them without an alternative. Finding ways to more objectively analyze results of these tests would be the ideal goal to keep what these tests measure intact. (Kline, 2000)

Powerful when used right– The goal of most personality tests is their ability to be used by anybody with the right training. This has not been the case with projective tests. But those tests that have been conducted by a number of professionals have yielded very strong, unique, and potentially useful results. (Kline, 2000)

Wide range of results– While they haven’t been validated, the amount of information collected is wide and fascinating. (Kline, 2000)

(Emily Southers)

References:

Kline, P. (2000). The handbook of psychological testing. Florence, KY: Psychology Press.

Merrell, K. (2003). Behavioral, social, and emotional assessment of children and adolescents. Florence, KY: Psychology Press.

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