Lilienfeld S. O., Wood J. M., Garb H. N. (2000) The scientific status of projective techniqes. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 1-2:27-66
Although projective techniques continue to be widely used in clinical and forensic settings, their scientific status remains highly controversial. In this monograph, we review the current state of the literature concerning the psychometric properties (norms, reliability, validity, incremental validity, treatment utility) of three major projective instruments: Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), and human figure drawings. We conclude that there is empirical support for the validity of a small number of indexes derived from the Rorschach and TAT. However, the substantial majority of Rorschach and TAT indexes are not empirically supported. The validity evidence for human figure drawings is even more limited. With a few exceptions, projective indexes have not consistently demonstrated incremental validity above and beyond other psychometric data. In addition, we summarize the results of a new meta-analysis intended to examine the capacity of these three instruments to detect child sexual abuse. Although some projective instruments were better than chance at detecting child sexual abuse, there were virtually no replicated findings across independent investigative teams. This meta-analysis also provides the first clear evidence of substantial file drawer effects in the projectives literature, as the effect sizes from published studies markedly exceeded those from unpublished studies. We conclude with recommendations regarding the (a) construction of projective techniques with adequate validity, (b) forensic and clinical use of projective techniques, and (c) education and training of future psychologists regarding projective techniques.
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