Projective techniques

The basic premise of projective techniques is that the best way to obtain the true feelings and attitudes of people is to enable them to indirectly present data about themselves by speaking through others.

Projective techniques such as sentence, story and picture completion are taken from the domain of abnormal psychology. They were devised in the belief that people have various psychological blockages that prevent them from verbalising their true feelings. The assumption is that normal people, too, experience blockages and that the method is also valuable in these circumstances.

In the case of picture completion or cartoon techniques the respondents are shown a picture of one or more people in a situation related to the subject under study. They are then told to describe what is occurring or to answer a question asked by one or other of the cartoon characters. The characters are usually drawn to be as neutral as possible (no smiles or frowns). Picture frustration (putting one of the cartoon figures in a frustrating position) and thematic apperception tests (depicting more general situations than the frustration method) are the most generally used methods (see Figure 6.3).

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