SZONDI TEST

A projective test in which the subject examines a set of photographs of people with different types of mental disorder and chooses those he likes and dislikes.The test consists of forty-eight cards divided into six sets of eight. Each set depicts faces of the following psychiatric patients: homosexual, sadist, epileptic, hysterical, catatonic, paranoid, depressed, and manic. One set is presented at a time and the subject is instructed first to “pick out the two pictures you like best” and then “select the two pictures you dislike most.” A different set of photographs is usually presented on six successive days. The test is remarkably easy to administer and verbal responses are not required. It can therefore be applied to individuals who have a language handicap and to patients who balk at more complicated testing situations.The test is an outgrowth of a genetic theory of personality originated by its inventor, Lipot Szondi, a Hungarian psychiatrist. According to this theory, which he termed “fate analysis,” the life of every individual is governed by a hidden plan determined by latent recessive genes. Our most characteristic drives stem from a hitherto unexplored area termed the “familial unconscious,” which contains these genetic tendencies. Through this level of the unconscious, which he contrasted with both the personal unconscious of Freud and the collective unconscious of Jung, our “repressed ancestors” direct our selective behavior, determining our choice of friends and occupation, and even our diseases and form of death. An example given by Szondi is the attraction which two people feel toward each other. This is not a surface attraction but is described as “genotropic,” since he believed it stems from the fact that the two individuals have similar or related recessive genes.On the basis of this theory—which is generally regarded as unproved and highly questionable—Szondi held that in reacting to the pictures on the test, the subject is not responding to superficial likes and dislikes but to deeper drives from his innermost self. His choices are determined by recessive hereditary factors, and therefore reveal his true personality.The test can be applied without accepting Szondi’s genetic theories. In the scoring procedure, the examiner sets up a profile of positive and negative responses to each of the diagnostic categories. The scores are then statistically compared with scores that could be obtained by chance. This is only part of the process, since Szondi claimed that only four dynamic drive-vectors underlie the eight categories. Each of these vectors comprises two of the basic categories—for example, the S-vector, or sexual drive, is expressed in the choice of both sadist and homosexual pictures. A preference for the homosexual picture shows a need to be tender, feminine, motherly, and passive, and may be expressed in such occupations as barber, cosmetician, and dancer. Preference for the sadist represents the sexual drive for masculinity and aggression, and is expressed in such occupations as animal training, prize fighting, and butchering. The other three vectors are the T-vector, made up of the epileptic and hysterical factors; the SCH-vector, comprising the catatonic and paranoid factors; and the C-vector, made up of the depressive and manic factors. The interaction between these four basic vectors is supposed to determine the entire personality of the individual. (Szondi 1952).The Szondi test has been subjected to both practical and theoretical criticism (Borstelmann and Klopfer, 1953). It seems to be based on long-rejected theories of instinct and physiognomy, and the eight clinical types do not correspond with those used in well-established tests such as the Rorschach or Thematic Apperception Test. Moreover, as Anastasi (1961) points out, “Attempts at empirical validation of its various assumptions have so far yielded overwhelmingly negative results,” and when used as a clinical instrument, “it is probably one of the least promising of the currently popular projective techniques.” See PHYSIOGNOMY.

Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "SZONDI TEST," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/szondi-test/ (accessed January 20, 2019).
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