Friday, September 18, 2020

How Do You Respond to These Images, and What Does That Say About You?

Psychologists have developed several projective tests to understand the minds of their patients. The famous Rorschach test is one of them. A lesser known test is the thematic apperception test.

Subjects are shown a series of illustrations of ambiguous but emotionally powerful situations and asked to supply the story behind them.

The subject is asked to make up a story explaining what led up to the moment depicted, what is going on, how each character thinks and feels, and what the ending will be. 

The examiner uses those responses to construct a profile of the observer. How malevolent or benevolent are they, and how much do they invest emotionally in relationships? 

Critics of projective tests, such as Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007), have argued that the scientific value of such tests is limited. We may be overestimating what an individual's interpretation of such images says about the individual. The images have an objective reality of their own that people are responding to, and we deconstruct and explain images in so many ways, depending on what we expect people to want to hear.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Timely! Tonight's news broadcasted videoclips of defending property with guns...and police cars rushing protestors. Responses followed politics. Troubling. Karen N