Projective, Objective & Situational judgement test

Projective test

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A projective test, in psychology, is a personality test designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, presumably revealing hiddenemotions and internal conflicts. This is different from an "objective test" in which responses are analyzed according to a universal standard (for example, a multiple choice exam). The responses to projective tests are content analyzed for meaning rather than being based on presuppositions about meaning, as is the case with objective tests.

Projective tests have their origins in psychoanalytic psychology, which argues that humans have conscious and unconscious attitudes and motivations. Unconscious attitudes and motivations form very early in life and are stored visually rather than verbally, and therefore cannot be verbally retrieved using objective tests. Unconscious attitudes and motivations can also be kept from consciousness by defense mechanisms, such as repression and projection. Conscious attitudes and motivations are formed after language skills have developed and are therefore easily articulated.

The general theoretical position behind projective tests is that whenever you ask a "question," the response that you get will be consciously-formulated and socially determined. These responses do not reflect the respondent's unconscious or implicit attitudes or motivations. The respondent's deep-seated motivations may not be consciously recognized by the respondent or the respondent may not be able to verbally express them in the form demanded by the questioner. Advocates of projective tests stress that the ambiguity of the stimuli presented within the tests allow subjects to express thoughts that originate on a deeper level than tapped by explicit questions.

The best known projective test is the Rorschach inkblot test, in which a subject is shown a series of irregular but symmetrical inkblots, and asked to explain what they see. The response is then analyzed in various ways, noting not only what the patient said, but the time taken to respond, what aspect of the drawing was focused on, and how the response compared to other responses for the same drawing. For example, if someone consistently sees the images as threatening and frightening, the tester might infer that the subject may suffer from paranoia. There is some evidence showing showing that Rorschach's test is as effective as other, non-projective, methods such as Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.[1]

Another popular projective test is the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in which an individual views ambiguous scenes of people, and is asked to describe various aspects of the scene; for example, the patient may be asked to describe what led up to this scene, the emotions of the characters, and what might happen afterwards. The examiner then evaluates these descriptions, attempting to discover the conflicts, motivations and attitudes of the respondent. In the answers, the respondent "projects" their unconscious attitudes and motivations into the picture, which is why these are referred to as "projective tests."

These tests lost popularity during the 1980s and 1990s because many theorists incorrectly equated psychoanalysis with Freudian theory, even though the two are clearly different. Psychoanalysis includes many theories in addition to Freud's, including those formulated by Carl Jung,Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno and Karen Horney, who either rejected or heavily modified Freud's theories. Carl Jung actually developed one projective test, called the word association test, which asks respondents to state the first word that enters their mind when given another word. Adorno used projective tests exensively in the classic study, The Authoritarian Personality.

Today, many social and cognitive psychlogists now recognize the existence of the unconscious, and distinguish between explicit and implicit attitudes. Explicit attitudes are those that are conscious; implicit attitudes exist below conscious awareness. To study implicit attitudes, cognitive psychologists use a derivation of Jung's word association test, called the implicit association test. This test flashes pictures, names or other associational stimuli rapidly on a computer screen and respondents indirectly evaluative the stimuli as positive or negative.

Projective techniques, including TATs, are used in qualitative marketing research, for example to help identify potential associations betweenbrand images and the emotions they may provoke. In advertising, projective tests are used to evaluate responses to advertisements. The tests have also been used in management to assess achievement motivation and other drives, in sociology to assess the adoption of innovations, and in anthropology to study cultural meaning. The application of responses is different in these disciplines than in psychology, because the responses of multiple respondents are grouped together for analysis by the organisation commissioning the research, rather than interpreting the meaning of the responses given by a single patient.


  1. ^ Hiller, J. B., Rosenthal, R., Bronstein, R. F., Berry, D. T. R., and Brunell-Neuleib, S. (1999) "A Comparative Meta-analysis of Rorschach and MMPI Validity"Psychological Assessment 11: 278-296.

Theodor W. Adorno, et al. (1964). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lawrence Soley & Aaron Lee Smith (2008). Projective Techniques for Social Science and Business Research. Milwaukee: The Southshore Press.


Objective test

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

are psychological tests that measure an individual's characteristics in a way that is independent of rater bias or the individual's own beliefs. Objective tests are often contrasted with subjective tests, which are sensitive to rater or examinee beliefs. They can also be contrasted withprojective tests which are based on Freudian Psychology (Psychoanalysis), and seek to expose the unconscious perceptions of people. Objective tests tend to be more reliable and valid than projective or subjective tests.

An objective test is built by following a rigorous protocol which includes the following steps:

  • Making decisions on nature, goal, target population, power.
  • Creating a bank of questions.
  • Estimating the validity of the questions, by means of statistical procedures and/or judgement of experts in the field.
  • Designing a format of application (a clear, easy-to-answer questionnaire, or an interview, etc.).
  • Detecting which questions are better in terms of discrimination, clarity, ease of response, upon application on a pilot sample.
  • Applying a revised questionnaire or interview to a sample.
  • Use appropriate statistical procedures to establish norms for the test.

Situational judgement test

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) or Inventories (SJIs) are a type of psychological test which present the test-taker with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask them to identify an appropriate response.[1] These are generally in amultiple choice format, but represent a distinct psychometric approach from the common knowledge-based multiple choice item.[1][2] They are often used in industrial-organizational psychology applications such as personnel selection.

Unlike most psychological tests SJTs are not acquired 'off-the-shelf', but are in fact designed as a bespoke tool, tailor-made to suit the individual role requirements.[1] This is because SJTs are not a type of test with respect to their content, but are a method of designing tests.


The earliest judgement test was a scale in the George Washington University Social Intelligence Test published in 1926.[2]

Situational judgement tests then went on to be used in World War II by psychologists in the US military.[2]

Today, SJTs are used in many organisations, are promoted by various consulting firms, and are researched by many.[2]


Everyone in your work group has received a new computer except you. What would you do?

A. Assume it was a mistake and speak to your supervisor.
B. Confront your supervisor regarding why you are being treated unfairly.
C. Take a new computer from a co-worker's desk.
D. Complain to human resources.
E. Quit.[2]

Advantages over other measures

  • They show reduced levels of adverse impact, by gender and ethnicity, (Hoare, Day & Smith, (1998)) compared to cognitive ability tests.[1][3]
  • They use measures that directly assess job relevant behaviours.[1]
  • They can be administered in bulk, either via pen and paper or on-line.[1]
  • The SJT design process results in higher relevance of content than other psychometric assessments (e.g. Motowildo, Hansen & Crafts,(1997)).[3] They are therefore more acceptable and engaging to candidates compared to cognitive ability tests since scenarios are based on real incidents[1]
  • It is unlikely that practice will enhance candidate performance as the answers cannot be arrived at logically – a response to a situation may be appropriate in one organisation and inappropriate in another.[1]
  • They can tap into a variety of constructs – ranging from problem solving and decision making to interpersonal skills.[1] Traditional psychometric tests do not account for the interaction between ability, personality and other traits.[3]
  • They can be used in combination with a knowledge based test to give a better overall picture of a candidate's aptitude for a certain job.[4]


  • The scenarios in many SJTs tend to be brief; therefore candidates do not become fully immersed in the scenario. This removes some of the intended realism of the scenario and reduces the quality and depth of assessment that can be obtained.[3]
  • SJI responses can be transparent, providing more of an index of best practice knowledge in some cases and therefore failing to discriminate between candidates' work-related performance.[3]
  • The response formats in some SJIs do not present a full enough range of responses to the scenario. Candidates can be forced to select actions or responses that do not necessarily fit their behaviour. They can find this frustrating and this can affect the validity of such measures (e.g. Chan & Schmitt, (2005); Ployhart & Harold, (2004); Schmit & Ryan, (1992)).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Situational Judgement Tests: Are they just measures of cognitive ability?". Human Assets. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e McDaniel, Michael A.; Whetzel, Deborah L.. "Situational Judgment Tests. An IPMAAC Workshop" (PDF). IPMA-HR Assessment Council. Retrieved on2007-08-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Technical Information". Harcourt Assessment. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  4. ^ Rahman, Mahibur. "Tackling situational judgment tests". BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. Retrieved on 2007-08-07.

Other References

  • ^ Hoare, S., Day, A., & Smith, M. (1998). The development and evaluation of situations inventories. Selection & Development Review, 14(6), 3-8.
  • ^ Motowildo, S.J., Hanson, M.A., & Crafts, J.L. (1997). Low fidelity simulations. In D.L. Whetzel & G.R. Wheaton (Eds.), Applied Measurement in industrial Psychology. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.
  • ^ Chan, D., & Schmitt, N. (2005). An agenda for future research on applicants' reactions to selection procedures: A construct-orientated approach. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 12, 9-23.
  • ^ Ployhart, R.E., & Harold, C.M. (2004). The applicant attribution-reaction theory (AART): An integrative approach of applicant attributional processing. International Journal of Selection & Assessment, 12, 84-98.
  • ^ Schmit, M.J., & Ryan, A.M. (1992). Test-taking dispositions: A missing link? Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 629-637.