Projective techniques


Projective techniques, originally developed for use in psychology, can be used in an evaluation to provide a prompt for interviews.

Photolanguage is a particular type of projective technique where participants select one or two pictures from a set and use them to illustrate their comments about something.  For example, participants in a workshop might be asked to select two pictures - one that represents you at the beginning of this course and one at the end - and then to discuss the pictures and their hopes and fears about the course and its impacts.

Projective techniques are typically divided into five groups (Linzey, 1959):

  • Associative techniques in which a particular stimulus is used to elicit the first thing that occurs in the subject’s mind.
  • Completion techniques in which the subject is required to complete sentences or drawings (sentence completion or captions in comic-strip callouts).
  • Constructive techniques in which the subject is required to create a drawing, sculpture, or story.
  • Choice/ordering techniques in which the subject is required to choose from a group, or to order a group (of pictures, sentences, etc.).
  • Expressive techniques in which the subject is required to organize and incorporate a particular stimulus into a self-expressive process, such as role playing, psychodrama, dance, etc. In my view, some of the narrative interviews commonly used in qualitative research nowadays also fall into this category


Linzey, G. (1959). On the classification of projective techniques. Psychological Bulletin, 56(2), 158–168.

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