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Projective Technique

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Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology


Ambiguous personality assessment; Free-response measures; Unrestricted-response technique


Projective techniques are a subset of personality testing in which the examinee is given a simple unstructured task, with a goal of uncovering personality characteristics. Projective techniques are often the most recognizable yet the most psychometrically controversial psychological testing technique. Based on the projective hypothesis, projective stimuli are purposefully ambiguous with the goal of eliciting the examinee’s true feelings, desires, fears, motives, and other unconscious personality characteristics. While neuropsychologists typically use objective measures of analysis, most only utilize projective techniques if there is suspected psychiatric diagnosis, rather than simply a suspected or known neurological diagnosis (Sweet, Moberg, & Suchy, 2000). The most common projective techniques include the Rorschach Inkblot Test (also known as the Rorschach or simply The...

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References and Readings

  • Klopfer, W. G., & Taulbee, E. S. (1976). Projective tests. Annual Review of Psychology, 27, 543–568.

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  • Lilienfeld, S. O., Wood, J. M., & Garb, H. N. (2000). The scientific status of projective techniques. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 1, 27–66.

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  • Sweet, J. J., Moberg, P. J., & Suchy, Y. (2000). Ten-year follow-up survey of clinical neuropsychologists: Part I. Practices and beliefs. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 14, 18–37.

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  • Watkins, C. E., Campbell, V. L., & McGregor, P. (1988). Counseling psychologists’ uses of and opinions about psychological tests: A contemporary perspective. The Counseling Psychologist, 16, 476–486.

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© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Kolakowsky-Hayner, S.A. (2011). Projective Technique. In: Kreutzer, J.S., DeLuca, J., Caplan, B. (eds) Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology. Springer, New York, NY.

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