Using Projective Tests – Laboratory vs Polish Skeptics’ Club


In the last weeks a heated argument developed about using projective tests. The discussion was initiated by the Polish Skeptics’ Club, which made the Rorschach cards public along with examples of “safe answers”. The Laboratory would like to outline the official position on this problem.

It is understandable to object to incompetence, ignorance or inexperience of persons using tests (incl. projective methods) at their work, but not to object to tests. It must also be remembered that the Rorschach test is in use not only in Poland. In an EFPA survey (European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations), the test was indicated in all European countries as one of the basic diagnostic tools, only in some countries it ranked below the first ten.

The main objection raised to the projective methods is that their evaluation system is hardly verifiable  and vulnerable to subjectivism of the person who makes interpretations. That’s correct, but there aren’t ideal diagnostic tools. Each test, even the standardized one, has some measuring error. What is more, a not sufficiently competent user may lower the validity of the diagnosis due to ignorance. The projective methods belong to the most difficult tools and require great experience. It’s why the Commission for Tests of the Polish Psychological Society recommends in a prepared categorization that the access be limited to appropriately trained persons.

A psychologist, while diagnosing, disposes over different tools, e. g. observation or non-structured interview. Those methods haven’t any unified evaluation system, either. Does that mean that the diagnosing person has no right to look at the examinee or to ask her/him questions? Some moderation in formulating critique would be recommended.

Serious ethical doubts were raised over the attitude of the persons representing the Skeptics’ Club who  deliberately decided to make the test material public even though that it is a part of the diagnostic process. We understand the need to discuss and while this action requires some attention, we condemn the attitude of showing disrespect to others’ work. Non-legitimate publishing of diagnostic methods is an action against standards of test using and against basic ethical norms obligatory for psychologists.
We invite to read the publication of Katarzyna Stemplewska-Żakowicz, PhD, and Bartosz Szymczyk, MA, presenting an interesting stance in the abovementioned discussion (Polish only).

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