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what is a projective test

In psychology, a projective test is a personality test designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, presumably revealing hidden emotions and internal conflicts projected by the person into the test. This is sometimes contrasted with a so-called “objective test” or “self-report test” in which responses are analyzed according to a presumed universal standard (for example, a multiple choice exam), and are limited to the content of the test.

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 that are beyond or hidden from conscious awareness.