When you’re conducting a survey, you need to find out what people think about things. But how do you get an accurate and unbiased sample of what your target population thinks?

You can do this by using projective techniques. These are techniques that involve asking questions that encourage responses that are not necessarily the ones you want to receive, but that still give the answers you need.

Here’s a quick guide on what projective techniques are, how they work, and some pros and cons:

Definition of Projective Techniques

Projective techniques are a way to test someone’s feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. The word “projection” means that one person is projecting their feelings onto another person.

Projective techniques are a group of survey methods that involve asking participants to provide information about themselves without their knowledge. This type of survey allows researchers to gain insight into individuals’ beliefs, values, and behaviors. 

Projective techniques are also useful for gathering data about groups of people, who may not be familiar with the researcher’s specific questions. The advantage of using projective techniques is that they allow researchers to test out various assumptions and ideas before implementing them in a real survey. 

For example, if a researcher uses a direct-questioning method and receives “no” responses from a certain group of participants, she can use projective techniques to rephrase the question or use different wording in order to get more answers from this particular group. Projective techniques also help researchers avoid ethical concerns like bias, false information given by respondents, and lack of anonymity among participants.

Furthermore, the test is based on the idea that we are all capable of projecting our thoughts onto something, and that by doing so, we may be able to get a glimpse into their thought processes. This can be used to gain an understanding of how people think and what they’re thinking about at any given time.


Why Projective Techniques are Important In Survey Research

Projective techniques are useful for assessing personality types, identifying mental illness, and understanding cultural differences. They make it easier for respondents to answer survey questions because they can more directly relate their responses to their own experiences and feelings. 

This helps ensure that their answers are accurate and honest, which is important when conducting surveys. This is because projective techniques rely on the ability of the respondent to project their own thoughts and feelings onto another person in order for them to respond. 

In other words, the respondent is asked to imagine what might be going through someone else’s mind. So while participants are asked to project their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors onto the situation in the survey, the researchers are able to get a better understanding of how people perceive things, which can help them to determine what kinds of questions should be asked in surveys.

What Are The Types of Projective Techniques?

There are four popular types of projective techniques: Word association Tests, Sentence Completion Tests, Thematic Apperception Tests (TAT), and Third-person Techniques.

  1. Word association tests ask you to say the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a certain object or activity. 
  2. Sentence completion tests ask you to write down what comes to mind when you hear or read a particular set of words. 
  3. Thematic apperception test (TAT) asks you to draw a picture from your imagination based on what is said to you. 
  4. Third-person techniques involve asking questions about yourself or others such as “What would happen if…?” and “Who would you be if…?”


Examples of Each Type of Projective Technique

  • Word Association Test: This is a projective technique in which the respondent is asked to write down a word that comes to mind when given a particular stimulus. For example, if you ask someone what they think of when they think of “intelligence,” they might respond with “intelligent people.”
  • Sentence Completion Test: This projective technique involves asking the respondent to write down words that begin with each letter of the word given. For example, if you ask someone “What does your typical day look like?” and the person responds with “I wake up, put on my uniform, go out for breakfast,” you can infer that their typical day is one in which they are generally active.
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): This projective technique involves asking respondents questions about their social experiences. For example, if someone asks them whether or not they have ever been in love with someone else at some point in their life, they may respond affirmatively because love is an important aspect of human relationships. A TAT can also be used to assess feelings about certain objects or concepts. 
  • Third-person Techniques: Third-person techniques are a set of techniques that involve projecting one’s own feelings onto someone else in order for them to see things from your perspective, such as  “Don’t you wish these people would stop talking?,” or “Would you be afraid if your boss found out you were late today?”


Advantages of Projective Techniques

The advantages of projective techniques include the following:

  • It can be used to test for a subject’s unconscious thoughts and feelings about an object or event.
  • It is a powerful tool for understanding the unconscious processes in the human mind, as it allows us to see how people think about things that have not been consciously recognized.
  • It can help us understand the way that people experience their lives and what they need from other people in order to feel safe and secure themselves (especially in relationships).
  • Projective techniques are often used in psychotherapy because they help patients gain insight into their emotions and their thoughts/feelings about them, which helps them learn how to deal with those emotions more effectively in real-life situations; this is especially true if you’re trying to get someone who has suffered from trauma or abuse therapy so they can heal from whatever caused it in the first place!
  • Projective techniques are also great for improving communication between therapists and clients because they let them know how someone else might be feeling without having to ask them directly


Disadvantages of Projective Techniques

Projective techniques are a form of empathy that can be used to gain information about people, but they also have disadvantages.

  1. The biggest drawback of projective techniques is that the people involved may not be able to accurately interpret what has been projected onto them. This means that people do not always get accurate feedback on the projectivity technique, which makes it difficult for them to know how the technique should be used in the future. 
  2. Additionally, projective techniques may not work well with certain personality types because they are more likely to get caught up in their own projections and become defensive rather than receptive.
  3. There is also the possibility that the participant will feel like they’re being judged and criticized, which can cause them to feel defensive and closed off.
  4. The participant may also be confused by what they are experiencing which could lead to a decreased ability to trust their own perceptions.


In conclusion, projective techniques are a way to get inside the heads of others and understand how they process information. They are especially useful when you’re trying to understand why people do what they do, or even just trying to get them to open up about their past.

However, researchers should note that projective techniques can be very difficult to work with if you’re not used to them. If a person has never been trained in projective techniques, it can be hard for them to understand what is being asked of them and how it will benefit them. So there is a need to be careful at all times when using these techniques.


  • Emmanuel
  • on 6 min read


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