Projective Ambiguity

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As I read Chapter 14 on Personality, I enjoyed coming across the mostly pseudo-scientific tests that were in the projective tests section of the chapter. The purpose of these tests is to use a stimulus and inevitably a person will project their personality onto the stimulus. It has been found that almost none of these tests are valid. The different tests include Rorschach inkblot test, the very cliché test from many a psychiatrist's movie scene. rorschach-jpeg-image-500x500-pixels-1.jpg
Other tests include the Thematic Apperception Test in which the patient must tell a story to go along with the cards that are presented. The clinician then deciphers what the story means. One of the funniest is the Draw-a-Person Test. The patient is asked to draw a human figure with different characteristics being supposedly related to specific aspects of personality. Drawing poorly can cause people to be deemed psychologically disturbed (which would certainly be me). 1_1042145715_1.jpg
One more approach that seems not to work very well is that of graphology. This is the interpretation of handwriting. The way that it works is mainly by the representative heuristic. Examples such as Barack Obama's smooth style means that he is able to handle situations well. This sort of interpretation has almost no validity when done. It is surprising to me that people have believed that these would actually give insight into a person's personality; almost all have shown over and again that they aren't worth much.

3 Comments

I agree with you that this section of the chapter was amusing. The fact that these 'clinicians' are using a method that they have not been formally trained in, is not standardized, and has no evidence to support it is beyond ridiculous and probably contributes to the coining of the term "psychobabble". I'm pretty disappointed in people who call themselves professionals and then advocate for this type of treatment.

I also agree that this part of the chapter was entertaining. It is funny to see what people place faith in, like graphology in this chapter and phrenology in an earlier one, when in reality, science proves these things irrelevant. People are so eager for answers and so eager to assign attributes they'll come up with ridiculous theories and believe them.

What's interesting about these now-ridiculous theories like graphology is that if you're not aware of the real scientific findings, they totally seem legitimate. I remember in my middle school for a while everyone was obsessed with deciphering what their handwriting said about their personality. Funny how once we're given more accurate information, the original idea seems so silly.

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This page contains a single entry by bride025 published on April 20, 2012 2:00 PM.

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