Objective and Projective Methods of Personality Assessment

The term objective in objective methods of personality assessment refers to the inability to rely on the subject’s statements about themselves but on their overt behavior as others, who serve as judges, examiners, or observers, reveal it. According to the definition, the participant is researched or observed in a particular life context where their specific conducts, traits, requirements, and features are constructed (Piotrowski, 2017). As such, the subject is observed directly by the examiner. The objective approaches employed are unobserved observation, miniature life situations, rating scales, and physiological measures. Objective techniques characteristics are attributed to the knowledge that they are more controlled and less vulnerable to respond to misrepresentations than personal assessments. Objective tests are believed to have a constructive impact on the reliability of outcomes (Ben-Porath, 2019). Moreover, based on their impact on outcome’s reliability, objective techniques increase the effectiveness of psychological treatment strategies.

Objective techniques are established on the supposition that for the counselor to achieve precision, the patient must have no knowledge of the association between the conclusion of the evaluator and their feedback. Regarding correctness, some opinions face validity does not exist relative to the purpose of the question associated with the technique (Ben-Porath, 2019). Generally, there is no dispute on how correct the assumption might be.

According to modern findings, the technical adequacy of the objective tests can vary from one assessment to another. Therefore, there are different criticisms on the effectiveness of Corazzini et al.’s (2021) grade point average (GPA), where the ordinary least squares (OLS) are used to measure the Big Five traits that affect academic achievement. Even with the results indicating higher scores on openness and conscientiousness on GPA in the Italian students population, the translation version may require undergoing social and cultural adaptation processes to be administered and interpreted right (Corazzini et al., 2021). The psychiatrist can acknowledge a similar belief despite the verbal correspondence in different ways based on the learner’s native culture.

The term projective in projective methods of personality assessment refers to the imaginative behavior of the subject allowing for the ability to make up a story. Moreover, the imaginative ways enable the subject to develop some substances out of plastic materials, construe inkblots, and portray what the participant desires (Piotrowski, 2017). The participant is inspired to throw out or project their sentiments, opinions, and desires, among other free responses in a given context. Therefore, the techniques utilized are envisioned to disclose the fundamental attitudes, tempers, qualities, and imaginations that determine an individual’s behavior in real circumstances.

The projective assessment techniques characteristics are; one, the stimulus material is generally vague, relatively undefined, and unbiassed such that the participants can easily abandon their personality impression (Piotrowski, 2017). Two, the assessments employ an unqualified translator who is likely to give their imaginations and partialities into rendering the participant’s creation. Third, the evaluations utilize insensible or implied personality features revealed in the tests. Alongside the psycho-dynamic principles, the techniques play a significant part in how the productions are interpreted (Ben-Porath, 2019). Lastly, the methods use the subject’s psychological instead of actual, real, important in their attitudes, beliefs, conflicts, fantasies, and ideas.

The fundamental assumptions associated with projective personality assessment methods are closely related to the psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalytic model. Based on the theory and model, the methods include stimuli demonstration, without cultural meaning and edifice and consists of pictures, inkblots, partial stories or spoken sentences, or presentation tasks (Piotrowski, 2017). The other assumption is that the materials allow the subjects to express holistic and distinctive aspects of their personalities. Additionally, the dynamic constructs are allowed by material’s valuation and resistance instruments against conscious, nervousness, and unconscious edifices and procedures (Ben-Porath, 2019). Lastly, the subjects are not aware of the purpose and meaning of their responses to the tests. Nonetheless, a fundamental assumption associated with projective techniques lies on the knowledge that some questions restrict how people express themselves, which results in responses that do not reflect hidden motivation in patients. Therefore, unstructured stimuli exposure is a basic aspect that inspires patients to freely present their ideas.

The researcher’s bias of the assumptions is often the core of criticism of the technique. In Bornstein (2015), despite how personality disorders (PDs) are hypothesized, and the employment of diagnostic systems, multimethod tests have a primary role to play in the diagnosis. Likewise, the ensuing mindful procedure by the clinician helps reduce the harmful effect of natural information processing occurs based on bias and distortions. As for the validity and reliability of the multimethod assessments, Bornstein (2015) shows the evidence attributed to multimethod assessment is scarce.

Despite the absence of reliability and validity in the multimethod assessment, Bornstein’s (2015) projective technique tends to be approved using one in three of the specialists who perform the personality tests. On the variabilities linked to culture and the society, PDs clinical diagnoses are articulation- and resource-based coping of subtleties while the participant’s age predicts the how the patient’s reasons. Alongside the differences in culture, the dissimilarities in the perception of PDs should be considered when using projective techniques.

Mrs. Jane Doe, a Latino English-speaking school teacher, is 28 years old. In her presentation to a psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with the following challenges; feeling of emptiness and workplace stress. With the teacher being a single parent of one child and a 3-year-old son, she is concerned about her child’s future. Jane has never been married and wonders how her son will grow into a responsible man without the presence of a male role model in his life.

The possible objective and projective tests that can be used in the treatment are MMPI and Rorschach tests, respectively, to highlight the causes of the challenges faced by Jane. The counselor can administer the objective assessment via the MMPI-2-RF online version (Ben-Porath, 2019). The interpretive guides for the study will be critical based on the associated advantages. Employing the reviewed MMPI version in the assessment is important in the treatment since it helps make initial decisions about Jane’s anxiety and depression indicators. Relative to the potential limitations, variations in MMPI scores between whites and other races can impact the result’s quality (Ben-Porath, 2019). The inkblot tests associated with Rorschach will incorporate a range of benefits. Some of them include distracting Jane from her negative thoughts and helping her realize the potential causes. The findings can contribute to MMP1 outcomes indicating the aspects of Jane’s condition that need attention.

Two limitations are associated with the inkblot tests; one, every specialist is expected to understand the applied projective assessment and avoid data distortion during interpretation, and two, response interpretation in projective tests is time-consuming. According to the analysis of the argument, for objective and projective techniques, the established suggestions to increase evaluation validity in Jane’s case are the following. One, using MMPI, comparing Jane’s socio-economic outline relative to the regular Caucasian women will help mitigate race-based mistakes. Based on the inkblot evaluations, the study aspects that influence coding and testing guidelines adherence and validity must be considered.


Bornstein, R. F. (January 01, 2015). Personality Assessment in the Diagnostic Manuals: On Mindfulness, Multiple Methods, and Test Score Discontinuities. Journal of Personality Assessment, 97, 5, 446-455.

Ben-Porath, Y. S. (2019). Uses and misuses of Ted Kaczynski’s MMPI. Journal of Personality Assessment, 101(2), 117-122.

Corazzini, L., DArrigo, S., Millemaci, E., Navarra, P., & Sudzina, F. (2021). The influence of personality traits on university performance: Evidence from first-year Italian students. Plus One, 16, 11.

Piotrowski, C. (2017). The linchpin on the future of projective techniques: The precarious status of personality assessment in the (overcrowded) professional psychology curriculum. Journal of Projective Psychology and Mental Health, 24, 71-73.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Objective and Projective Methods of Personality Assessment." September 25, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/objective-and-projective-methods-of-personality-assessment/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Objective and Projective Methods of Personality Assessment." September 25, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/objective-and-projective-methods-of-personality-assessment/.


PsychologyWriting. "Objective and Projective Methods of Personality Assessment." September 25, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/objective-and-projective-methods-of-personality-assessment/.